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: 05/14/2021

    Hubert Joly says ‘human connection’ laid the foundation of Best Buy’s turnaround

    Can we clone Mr. Joly, please? By all reasonable measures, Best Buy could/should have been among the casualties of online shopping. Yet here they are winning the game by differentiating themselves through amazing staff. Product and price are rarely differentiators anymore. The greatest variable to leverage is the quality of the staff interaction with customers. Mr. Joly saw what so many don't see -- the opportunity to drive the business by creating an amazing work experience for their team members. Seeing employees as their most valuable asset, and not an expense item.
  • Posted on: 05/05/2021

    Are retailers making it too tough for seniors to shop online?

    Better websites would help. But how about including a short tutorial video that walks people through how the website works? Show people how to add/delete from the cart, add promo codes -- everything that you think they should know, but likely don't. Don't make the assumption that everyone has a relative to show them the ropes, or that everyone has tech skills.
  • Posted on: 04/23/2021

    Amazon has mad upskills

    Thirty-plus years into our business of training front-line retail staff, here's what I know:
    • The retailers winning the game have invested in their staff with training, coaching, incentives and remuneration.
    • Those struggling have training "cupboards" that are, for the most part, completely empty when it comes to giving staff the real skills they need to succeed and grow.
    • The good news is that more retailers have realized the need to invest in their most important asset -- their staff.
    The bad news is that the majority are still too far behind what is needed. We rarely have to work hard to convince a retailer of the value of training their staff. Now if only they would give their staff as much attention and deserved investment as they do with their IT dreams.
  • Posted on: 04/21/2021

    Is Athleta’s Canadian expansion a stretch for the Gap-owned chain?

    Hey Lee -- do you think we live in igloos, too? There's actually about 38 million of us (we've been busy making babies and welcoming immigrants). And there are a number of other large markets as well outside of the three you mention. Heck, we have seven NHL teams so we must have at least that many metropolitan areas. We already have a bit of an inferiority complex, so I needed to set the record straight.
  • Posted on: 04/21/2021

    Is Athleta’s Canadian expansion a stretch for the Gap-owned chain?

    I live up here in Canada. We're somewhat starved for good retail concepts (then again, so is most of the world). There's lots of room for Athleta, and pretty much any other other great retail concept. At last look, the average sales per square foot in our malls runs around $750 per foot, whereas in the U.S. it runs around $450. These numbers may be off a bit, but it shows that there is significantly less competition up here. While Canada may not represent a massive growth opportunity for them, they should find success.
  • Posted on: 04/21/2021

    Is Athleta’s Canadian expansion a stretch for the Gap-owned chain?

    That's true, Venky. But we're very nice up here. :)
  • Posted on: 04/20/2021

    What goes into delivering a ‘wow’ shopping experience?

    Isn't it always amazing to see that so much of the "wow" is tied to just finding a helpful, skilled and knowledgeable staff member? For as much as things change, things stay the same. And even in those sectors where it's more of a self-serve model, it relies on the staff to execute all of the merchandising. If you're looking to reduce friction of all types, it would seem to make sense to invest in your most important asset -- your staff.
  • Posted on: 04/19/2021

    Are you ready for the retailer-as-service revolution?

    This reminds me of a great athletic retailer focused on runners who ran running clinics every day. That was their secret sauce. The product was good. But the service offering was even better. Product is just product. You can get that anywhere. It's the experience that matters. So, it only makes sense that retailers extend into service offerings for vendors, staff and customers.
  • Posted on: 03/24/2021

    Will Five Below’s sales go above and beyond with a new store-in-store concept?

    As Mark notes above, this isn't a unique or first-time approach for dollar stores. The reality is that customers don't come in to spend just a dollar (or $5 as in the case of Five Below). They are looking for extreme value. Combine that with the increasing costs that retailers face, and it just makes sense to include higher priced items in the store assortment. Look for Five Below to expand this into all stores eventually.
  • Posted on: 03/23/2021

    Does keeping it real, really work?

    Go the mall and as you look around ask yourself how many of these retailers have authentic values you could easily identify. The answer will be "not many." And it's within that answer you discover the problem that so many retailers have. There's a lack of any authenticity (other than "we want to always sell you something") for most. That used to be OK. A good product, price, convenience angle would typically work. But consumers have more options available, are more informed, and demanding (this is justifiable). For retailers struggling with "authenticity," it will likely take a change in senior management to change direction. You're either authentic -- or not. You can't fake it, or find it in a strategic planning getaway.
  • Posted on: 03/08/2021

    Does make sense as a separate business?

    The majority owner of HBC (Richard Baker) isn't a retailer -- he's more interested in the real estate value of the stores. Little has been done to remake HBC since he took over, other than sell off properties for big profits. This unfortunately reeks of Eddie Lampert's time at Sears, during which he stripped the company of any value. Mr. Baker is no doubt a very smart guy, but don't confuse that with being a retailer. Hence the move to sell off
  • Posted on: 03/05/2021

    Will Tonal shops help Nordstrom strengthen its fitness cred?

    I love the idea -- now let's see how execution goes. This is absolutely on trend and will attract a lot of attention in the stores. Now we'll see what Nordstrom does with that new attention. They are typically exceptionally good at execution so I expect this to be a win for them.
  • Posted on: 03/02/2021

    Macy’s leadership changes focus on digital ops and supply chain

    The challenge for Macy's isn't the leadership, it's that these middle of the road department stores are no longer competitive. They get outdone on pricing, merchandising, staff and experience by specialist retailers every day. Macy's isn't alone in the desert as you can see most department stores struggling. It is going to take some amazing, innovative thinking to bring these concepts from the past back to life.
  • Posted on: 03/01/2021

    Do rivals need to follow Costco’s minimum wage lead right now?

    Costco stock performance has risen nearly 400 percent in the last 10 years. Not many retailers can boast that performance. And that's on the back of a company that puts their staff before their shareholders. Costco has led the way for years and continues to push forward on creating a great career while continuing to grow their business success. Other retailers need to open their eyes -- and their wallets.
  • Posted on: 01/20/2021

    Is My Pillow being ‘cancelled’ or is its CEO trashing the business all on his own?

    Mr. Lindell is free to say what he wants (no matter how crazy it may sound to some!), and retailers are free to carry the brands they want. I recall a few years back slamming a retailer for poor execution of their brand -- needless to say they haven't hired my services since. Top selling items get delisted for various reasons (e.g., guns at various chains). It's more important than ever for retailers to stand up for their values. You can no longer be in business just to make money.

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