Kevin Graff

President, Graff Retail

Kevin is the President of Graff Retail Inc. He is a retail and training professional with over 20 years of related experience. Founded in 1988, Kevin started what is now Canada’s leading training and consulting firm that specializes in working with retail organizations around the globe.

His years of consulting and delivering speeches and training seminars makes him keenly aware of the real life challenges facing the retail industry. All aspects of the retail operation including hiring and orientation of employees, staff and sales management, customer service initiatives and selling and retail strategies are areas of practical experience and success for Kevin.

Keynote Speaker: Kevin has presented hundreds of keynote addresses to a variety of retail, sales and service business audiences around the globe. Inevitably, the highlight of most conferences.

Author: Authored the books Winning Retail and Selling with Passion. Kevin also writes The Graff Retail Report, a monthly newsletter read by thousands of retailers around the globe.

Trainer Extraordinaire: Kevin consistently receives ratings that exceed 95% when he delivers training programs. Audiences love him!

Program Design: Kevin has lead the development of literally hundreds of training programs and systems over the past 20 years. Of great pride is the accomplishment of having these programs win The Retail Council of Canada’s Best Employee Development Programs Award not once, not twice … FIVE times!

Membership: Kevin is a member of The President’s Club at The Retail Council of Canada. He is also actively involved in several Retail Council of Canada events.

Over the past few years we have had the opportunity to work with clients such as Costco Wholesale, Roots, Sony, Home Hardware, Staples, Canada Post Corporation, Canadian Tire, Shoppers Drug Mart, Loblaws and hundreds of other retailers across the globe.

  • Posted on: 11/11/2019

    Why is Trader Joe’s hiding stuffed animals in its stores?

    Love it ... and it's way less creepy than the Elf on a Shelf! This is just a great example of how simple it can be at times to create an amazing customer experience. Kids clubs, treats, activities ... make it fun for the kids. Parents will stay longer in your store, and reward you along the way.
  • Posted on: 11/11/2019

    Did social media spook Party City’s Halloween sales?

    If the excuse of people making their own costumes being the reason for poor sales held any water then by extension, restaurants should all be out of business because people can cook their own food. That's a pretty flimsy excuse. I was in three Halloween stores this season. Two were typically boring ... 90 percent product, 10 percent theater. As you would expect, they weren't that busy. The third was 60 percent product and 40 percent theater. Great fun and experience and -- you guessed it -- jammed with people. Look, if you can't make Halloween a great experience in your stores, then you've got a big problem ... the Grim Reaper is likely around the corner.
  • Posted on: 11/05/2019

    Will a sustainability push drive sales growth for Europe’s largest fashion e-tailer?

    Too many retailers (and manufacturers) are way behind where they need to be on the sustainability front. Take a look at the packaging disaster on your porch when Amazon delivers something to you (they're not alone). There are some good initiatives taking place, but not enough, and not fast enough. Customers sentiment is moving to a stronger awareness of the sustainability issue. Once the leading retailers take a strong stance on this issue, customers will begin to demand it from everyone else too. It's time to get moving.
  • Posted on: 11/04/2019

    Should McDonald’s CEO have been fired over a ‘consensual relationship’?

    Quite the juicy topic for a Monday morning! There are lots of angles to take on this. First, the top executive should follow the policies, or else what do you expect everyone else to do? So given the policy, it's the right thing for McDonald's to do. Second, it's slippery slope when the "boss" is involved in one of these relationships. It's pretty easy to take the "predator" view of this -- however, let's get the facts first, folks, before we even open that door. Third, and maybe most importantly, these policies are somewhat ridiculous. Lock people in the same room for 40-plus hours every week and love will show up at some point for some in the room. Accepting the reality of being human should be the starting point, and then build some common sense policies around this to ensure everyone is on board in the right direction. (It's a good thing I work with my wife because I'm pretty sure I just flirted with her!)
  • Posted on: 10/10/2019

    Can Target’s chief merchandising officer turn Bed Bath & Beyond around?

    Bed Bath & Beyond represents exactly what's wrong with most retailers today. A bunch (too many in this case) of products on a shelf with a price tag. That's it. No experience here other than frustration amidst the crowded, disorganized and uninspiring displays. It's a great category to be in that's just waiting for someone (anyone!) to execute a store that's long on experience and short on clutter. I'm wishing Mr. Tritton success with this -- he can't help but find about a hundred things to fix in his first week on the job.
  • Posted on: 10/09/2019

    Will part-timers flock to Lidl after grocer offers health insurance for all?

    Retailers are slowly waking up to the importance of staff in this new age of retail. The variance range in performance on product, price, marketing, store design, etc. between retailers is very small. However, the variance range in performance with staff is ridiculously large. Putting staff on the top of the priority list will always pay dividends. On that note, Whole Foods (OK, Amazon really) took another step in the race to the bottom with their latest move in taking away benefits. How long before they strip away everything that made Whole Foods a distinctive concept?
  • Posted on: 10/08/2019

    Will Erewhon become the next Whole Foods?

    Setting aside the question of whether or not Erewhon will be successful on the national stage, the red flag goes up with the inclusion of a private equity firm behind the rollout. Take a look at the disasters created by these equity firms and their leveraged buyouts over the years -- Toys "R" Us, Claire's, Gymboree, True Religion ... to name just a few. Being harnessed with mountains of debt by these LBOs sank them fast. The only ones to make money were the equity firms, and lots of it too. No doubt capital is important for expansion ... just be careful who you jump into bed with to get it.
  • Posted on: 10/04/2019

    Kroger makes unusual donation to prevent a food desert

    How can anyone not be proud to be part of the retail world? Retailers of all sizes donate millions and millions of dollars each year back into their communities. They do it quietly, typically (Walmart alone donates over $1 billion annually). Retail gets a black eye (sometimes deserved) too often. This is just another example of the good work we do.
  • Posted on: 09/24/2019

    What will Apple’s reinvented Fifth Avenue flagship mean for the brand?

    Here's the message for other retailers: When you see a rock star brand hitting it out of the park like Apple, who is also winning most of the retail wars, and they reinvent themselves -- isn't it time you do the same? Too many retailers rely on old concepts and old thinking. They move too slow. Innovation is slow to be adopted. Lost in-store potential is met with blind eyes. Winning? Great -- now's the time to reinvent. Treading water? Better hurry -- yesterday was the time to reinvent. Losing? Sorry to hear that -- it may be even too late to reinvent, but don't go down without a fight!
  • Posted on: 09/10/2019

    Nordstrom Local hopes for big returns from the competition

    Welcome to the unfolding of this new retail world. Sometimes messy. Sometimes clear. Always interesting. Traffic is always the starting point for retail success, and this moves generates that for Nordstrom. Data is king ... and Nordstrom now has access to more of that. Conversion will be the key -- and the unknown. How many of these "return" customers can they convert to a Nordstrom customer? Regardless of that number, it's much higher than the conversion they are getting on those same customers if they don't even come into the store! The big question is -- why would Macy's and Kohl's even consider sending their customers to a competitor? That's the head-scratcher!
  • Posted on: 09/10/2019

    Will others follow Starbucks’ lead on employee mental health programs?

    Hats off to the purpose-driven leadership at Starbucks for taking on this important initiative. For those above who are throwing them under the train for this, it's likely because you don't understand the "First Aid" program, which is amazing. It's not about labeling someone. It's about understanding and helping, something completely lacking in most circles when it comes to mental health. Putting employees first in every way is the ONLY way to go in today's world. Care for them more than you do about your bottom line -- and you'll find more success.
  • Posted on: 09/09/2019

    Ace Hardware builds through acquisition in the do-it-for-me market

    A great example of thinking laterally, and avoiding the usual "let's just do more of what we already do." While this type of acquisition/addition of new services isn't new, it makes perfect sense. Be more important to your customers than just a bunch of boxes on a shelf with price tags!
  • Posted on: 06/21/2019

    Strong women execs: be ‘authentic’, just don’t be yourself

    Yes, we should have moved on from this "debate" a long time ago. I've been lucky enough to moderate several leadership round table discussions, many of which featured women who lead major retail chains. Here's what I learned: As we move into the human economy and past the knowledge economy, those with heart will win the day. In my humble opinion, companies led by women typically have significantly more heart and authentic leadership. Sign me up to work with any of them any day.
  • Posted on: 06/17/2019

    Does self-checkout make sense for Costco?

    Self-checkout is likely just a short term solution as mobile checkout supported by customers' own device is on the horizon. Faster, seamless and way less expensive. I'm not a technology guy. But from speaking with many executives who know this space well, it seems to be the way forward. Why get in any line at all if you don't have to?
  • Posted on: 05/10/2019

    Will Farmstead’s ‘Smart Shopping List’ give it an edge in online grocery competition?

    The grocery sector is so ripe for being re-engineered. Shopping for groceries hasn't changed very much for centuries ... make a list (80 percent of which is the same each week), drive to the store, walk the aisles, pay, drive home, unpack. It seems a bit silly when you look at it like that. Hats off to Farmstead for pushing the innovation envelope. Consumers will love the time saved that can be invested in their lives and families. And Farmstead will reap better loyalty and sales.

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