Page 4 - June2021
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who’s who in retail





                                                                       MEETS





                                                               James Daunt







                                                              CEO OF BARNES & NOBLE AND WATERSTONES

       Q. Given the current market conditions, have you had   you   cannot  transform  a  company   unless  the   people   and  staff
       Q. Given the current market conditions, have you had  you  cannot  transform  a  company  unless  the  people  and  staff
       to alter or re-evaluate your key objectives over the   at  that  company  believe  in  it,  particularly  if  you  are  essentially  a
       to alter or re-evaluate your key objectives over the  at that company believe in it, particularly if you are essentially a
       coming 12 months?                                      people business.
       coming 12 months?
                                                              people business.
       A.  We  have,  firstly  to  try  and  survive  in  circumstances  when
       A.  We  have,  firstly  to  try  and  survive  in  circumstances  when
                                                              Q.

       we  have  gone  through  stages  where  we  had  no  idea  how  Q. What do you make of social media and its prominent
                                                                What do you make of social media and its prominent
                                                   idea
                                  where
                                        we
                                                no
                            stages
                     through
           have
                                                        how
               gone
                                            had
       we


                                                         the
                          to
                                             concentrates
                    going
               were
       long  we  were  going  to  be  closed  for,  this  concentrates  the  rise in importance over the last few years, and how
       long
           we
                                                              rise in importance over the last few years, and how
                            be
                               closed
                                      for,
                                         this
                                                              important do you feel e-commerce and online activities
       mind somewhat.                                         important do you feel e-commerce and online activities
       mind somewhat.
                                                              will continue to be?
                                                              will continue to be?
       Q. How would you say the Covid-19 outbreak has  A. Social media is obviously hugely impactful and I think it can
       Q. How would you say the Covid-19 outbreak has         A.  Social  media  is  obviously  hugely  impactful  and  I  think  it  can
                                                              be
                                                                         positive,
                                                                                        within
                                                                                                        of
                                                                                              the
                                                                                 certainly
                                                                                                                it’s
                                                                                                          books
                                                                 massively
       affected your business in the past year, and will it have  be  massively  positive,  certainly  within  the  world  of  books  it’s
       affected your business in the past year, and will it have
                                                                                                  world
       any effect on your plans moving forward?               a  means  to  promote  books  and  it  can  generate  excitement  in
       any effect on your plans moving forward?
                                                              a means to promote books and it can generate excitement in
                                                              books.
                                                                                     allows
                                                                                               communicate
                                                                                   it
          Well
                           whole
                                there
                                                                                             to
                  retail
                                               two
                                                   important
                      as
                                                                                           us
              for
                                          been
                         a
                                      have
                                                                             online,
                                                                                                           with
       A. Well for retail as a whole there have been two important  books. In terms of online, it allows us to communicate with our
       A.
                                                                           of
                                                                    In
                                                                      terms
                                                                                                               our
       changes. The first is online; this has grown both for competitors  customers and has changed how we reach our consumers. In our
       changes.  The  first  is  online;  this  has  grown  both  for  competitors   customers  and  has  changed  how  we  reach  our  consumers.  In  our
                                  to
                                                                     means
                                                  two
                                                                  this
                   shift
                                    online.
       and
                           physical
                                          Number
       and for us, this shift from physical to online. Number two is, allied  case this means promoting books, communicating about books
                                                       allied
                                                     is,
                                                                                           communicating
                       from
                                                              case
                                                                           promoting
             us,
          for
                                                                                                        about
                                                                                                             books
                this
                                                                                     books,
       to that but not only because of that; the physical retail landscape  and reaching out to people on the basis of what they’re reading,
       to  that  but  not  only  because  of  that;  the  physical  retail  landscape   and  reaching  out  to  people  on  the  basis  of  what  they’re  reading,
       is  going  through  a  change.  A  lot  of  companies  will  go  out  of  but also running things like author events which used to be a
       is   going   through  a  change.   A  lot   of  companies  will   go  out   of   but  also  running  things  like   author   events  which  used   to   be  a
                                                              physical experience and is now a virtual one online.
       business and a lot will be closing stores.
       business and a lot will be closing stores.             physical experience and is now a virtual one online.
       Q. What key leadership skills do you feel are the most  Q.  What  would  you  consider  to  be  the  highlights  in
       Q. What key leadership skills do you feel are the most   Q.  What  would  you  consider  to  be  the  highlights  in
                                                              your career?
       important in the current retail climate?               y our car eer?
       important in the current retail climate?
                                                                                  most
                                                                                I’m
                                            keeping
                                                                        of
                                                                                                  my
                                                                                             of
                       a
                                                                          which
                                                                                                     own
                                                                    thing
                  from
                                                   the
                                                                                               are
                                                                                       proud
                                                                The
                        leadership
                                                      staff
                                                              A.
                                                                                                         bookshops,
       A.
       A. Obviously from a leadership perspective, keeping the staff of  A. The thing of which I’m most proud of are my own bookshops,
                                                          of
         Obviously
                                 perspective,
       a   retail   company  focused  and  understanding   what  is  going  on   opening  those  up  and  for  them  to  be  successful  and  continue  to
       a retail company focused and understanding what is going on  opening those up and for them to be successful and continue to
       and understanding what the business imperatives are and how  be successful some thirty years later is the thing of which I’m most
       and  understanding  what  the  business  imperatives  are  and  how   be  successful  some  thirty  years  later  is  the  thing  of  which  I’m  most
       we  are  going  to  respond  to  them  is   important.   I  think  from   a   proud.  But  also  it’s  been  very  nice  to  take  over  the  stewardship
       we are going to respond to them is important. I think from a  proud. But also it’s been very nice to take over the stewardship
       leadership  perspective,  how  do  you  keep  your  staff  engaged  and   of  Waterstones  when  it  was  at  a  difficult  moment  in  its  history
       leadership perspective, how do you keep your staff engaged and  of Waterstones when it was at a difficult moment in its history
                                                                 to
                                                                    now
                                                                            it
                                                              and
                                                                              able
                                                                                  to
                                                       bring
                                               you
                                                                        have
                                                   then
                     they
                when
                                                                                              what
                                furlough?
                             on
                         are
                                                                                                             almost
       motivated
       motivated when they are on furlough? How do you then bring  and to now have it able to get through what has been an almost
                                                                                                  has
                                                                                                      been
                                                                                                          an
                                       How
                                                                                       through
                                            do
                                                                                    get
       them back into store when you don’t know how long you are  existential difficulty like the pandemic and to do so frankly with
       them  back  into  store  when  you  don’t  know  how  long  you  are   existential  difficulty  like  the  pandemic  and  to  do  so  frankly  with
       going to be reopen for? I think a lot of communication is required  some ease has been particularly pleasing.
       going  to  be  reopen  for?  I  think  a  lot  of  communication  is  required   some ease has been particularly pleasing.
                     everybody
                   let
       and
          you
                                         going
                                                 that’s
                                        is
              must
                                                      always
                                              on,
                              know
                                   what
       and you must let everybody know what is going on, that’s always
       important in leadership but particularly so now when things are  Q.  How are you feeling about the 12 months ahead?
                                                                 How are you feeling about the 12 months ahead?
                                                              Q.

                                              when
                                       so
                           but
                                                         are
                  leadership
                in
                              particularly
                                                   things
                                          now
       important
       so difficult.                                          A.  I  think  we  just  have  to  take  every  week  as  it  comes  and  every
       so difficult.
                                                              A. I think we just have to take every week as it comes and every
                                                              month as it comes, we have to hope these vaccinations will see us
                                                              month  as  it  comes,  we  have  to  hope  these  vaccinations  will  see  us
                                                                                                         be
                                                                                                       to
       Q. As a leader, when making key strategic decisions,  return to some sort of normality and that appears to be possible
       Q. As a leader, when making key strategic decisions,
                                                                           sort
                                                                   to
                                                                                normality
                                                                                         and
                                                                                            that
                                                                                                appears
                                                                      some
                                                              return
                                                                                                            possible
                                                                              of
                                                                                             have
                                                                     generally
                                                                                         as
                                                                            I’m
                                                                                            I
                                                                                 optimistic
                                                                                                          past
                                                                                                 been
                                                              now,
                                                                                                       the
       what proportion of the decision do you feel is fact-   now, so generally I’m as optimistic as I have been in the past year.
       what proportion of the decision do you feel is fact-
                                                                               as
                                                                                                     in
                                                                  so
                                                                                                              year.
       based and what proportion is instinctual?
       based and what proportion is instinctual?
                                          in
                                   rooted
                                are
                                                      of
                                                culture
                                            the
          I
       A.
       A.  I  feel  instinctual  decisions  are  rooted  in  the  culture  of  the  Q. Do you have any words of warning for the industry
                        decisions
               instinctual
           feel
                                                         the
                                                                Do you have any words of warning for the industry
                                                              Q.

       company,  so   that’s  how   I  would  interpret   instinctual.  I  think   a   as we head into unchartered territory?
       company, so that’s how I would interpret instinctual. I think a  as we head into unchartered territory?
       company   like   Waterstones   has   an   extremely   strong   culture   A.  I  think  we  need  to  continue  to  articulate  our  situation  and
       company  like  Waterstones  has  an  extremely  strong  culture  A. I think we need to continue to articulate our situation and
                        our
                      of
                                                                           government
           the
                                                                                                 retailers,
                                                                                                         particularly
       and the majority of our decisions are rooted within culture. In  encourage  the  government  to  support  retailers,  particularly
              majority
       and
                            decisions
                                             within
                                                              encourage
                                                                                       to
                                                          In
                                                                       the
                                                   culture.
                                    are
                                                                                          support
                                       rooted
       addition to this, any retailer needs to understand how and why it  physical retailers. We need a reform of the rates system which
       addition  to  this,  any  retailer  needs  to  understand  how  and  why  it   physical  retailers.  We  need  a  reform  of  the  rates  system  which
                                                              is  a  substantial  part  of  our  fixed-cost  base  and  a  particularly
       operates and that is predominantly based on fact.      is   a   substantial   part   of   our   fixed-cost   base   and   a   particularly
       operates and that is predominantly based on fact.
                                                              unhelpful, inflexible and inappropriate one and if we are to keep
                                                              unhelpful,  inflexible  and  inappropriate  one  and  if  we  are  to  keep
         Q. Do you feel that a leader can be transformational  shops open the government has to address that. I also think that
         Q. Do you feel that a leader can be transformational   shops  open  the  government  has  to  address  that.  I  also  think  that
       whilst  remaining  authentic,  and  how  important  do  you   as  people  who  run  retail  businesses,  we  sort  of  feel  we  have  a
       whilst remaining authentic, and how important do you  as people who run retail businesses, we sort of feel we have a
                                                              responsibility to keep as many of our shops open as we can and
       feel this is?
       feel this is?                                          responsibility  to  keep  as  many  of  our  shops  open  as  we  can  and
                                  that
                         important
                      it’s
                                                    authentic,
                                             remain
                                      leaders
       A.
       A.  Well  certainly  it’s  important  that  leaders  remain  authentic,  as many people employed as we can.
          Well
               certainly
                                                              as many people employed as we can.
        04 RETAIL & LEISURE INTERNATIONAL JUNE 2021
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