PROFILE

Neil Saunders

Managing Director, GlobalData
Neil is Managing Director of GlobalData’s retail division. In this role he oversees the development of the company’s retail proposition and its research output. He also works with clients to help them understand the retail, shopper and market landscape – advising them on how best to develop, evolve and implement business strategies. Prior to GlobalData, Neil worked at retail research firm Verdict for ten years. He latterly held the post of board director with responsibility for Consulting, Corporate Development and Planning. Before Verdict, Neil worked for the John Lewis Partnership where he was involved, among other things, in the planning and relocation of new stores, the development of the ecommerce business, and the creation of technical and information systems. Before moving to the United States, Neil served as a non-executive board director for the Great Western Railway – a role he held for just under 11 years. He currently serves as an advisory board member for the faculty of business and law at the University of Southampton, as an Honorary Lecturer at the University of New Hampshire, and as a Visiting Fellow at the University of Surrey. For more information, visit: www.globaldata.com/
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  • Posted on: 11/16/2018

    RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: Amazon vs. Best Buy

    Best Buy's advertisement is not very festive, but it does get some important messages across -- namely that Best Buy has gifts for everyone, has good customer service, and is a destination for holiday shopping. Amazon's advertisement is much jollier and upbeat. I like that Alexa features in the spot. I also like the sense of connection that Amazon portrays in the sense that you order goods and they are shipped out to people and touch lives. Overall, my vote goes for Amazon. Sorry, but I love the anthropomorphic boxes!
  • Posted on: 11/16/2018

    Can Bernie Sanders force Walmart to raise its minimum wage?

    This represents an unwarranted level of interference in corporate America. It is not the place of government to dictate to firms how they use their profits. If Bernie and his socialist gang feel so strongly they should go and set up their own companies and run them in accordance with their principles.
  • Posted on: 11/15/2018

    Will displaying produce by season set a new grocery concept apart from rivals?

    The fact that Natoora's new store is in one of the most affluent and well-heeled parts of London says quite a lot. This is a niche concept for people who want great produce and don't mind spending money to get it. This is not to discredit Natoora which has a much bigger business supplying restaurants and partnering with retailers like Waitrose, Ocado and the U.K. division of Whole Foods. I think that is where the real growth for the company lies.
  • Posted on: 11/15/2018

    I don’t like Amazon as much as I did last week

    I have sympathy, but at the end of the day Amazon has to do what is right for its business and select the locations where it can find the right staff and get the most financial benefits. It is not Amazon's job to revive failing cities or locations. That said, I am critical of two things. First, I think the hype surrounding the contest was wrong. This should have been a much quieter and more considered process, without all of the hoopla. Second, I do not agree with the extensive amount of corporate welfare being given; I don't necessarily blame Amazon for taking it, but I don't think it provides a level playing field for locations, other firms, and taxpayers.
  • Posted on: 11/14/2018

    What’s missing from everyday fashion rental subscription services?

    The concept of ownership has changed and continues to change. People are slightly less materialistic and more concerned with sustainability, so rental services will continue to grow across all categories. However, I agree with Nikki's view that the appeal is somewhat diminished for everyday apparel. There is little thrill in receiving more mundane products and there is little value in renting things which are of relatively low value. Indeed, it's probably more wasteful to rent everyday things than to buy them and wear them regularly.
  • Posted on: 11/14/2018

    Is 7-Eleven using ICE to get rid of troublesome franchisees?

    Of course, franchisees should abide by the law. However, if the reports are true, these are extremely nasty tactics by 7-Eleven. It's not the kind of behavior I'd expect from any responsible business.
  • Posted on: 11/13/2018

    Do grocery stores have a customer engagement problem?

    Let's be frank, many mainstream American supermarkets have not moved on since the late 1970s and early 1980s. Their formats are dated, their stores are dingy, and their whole proposition is stuck in the past. There are notable exceptions -- including Sprouts, Wegmans, and Publix -- but many of the big players like Kroger and Albertsons have a lot of work to do. Price Chopper's Market 32 concept is one of the best in terms of evolution. It has transformed a tired format into a really compelling and engaging space with a range of services, including restaurants and takeaway food. Sprouts is also good: new formats like the one near me in Gainey Village in Scottsdale are open and vibrant with lots of counters and a focus on meal solutions. Wegmans is excellent. They understand the theater around food and the range of counters and meal solutions is outstanding. The store is one big box of temptation. Additionally, Wegmans put enormous effort into making things taste delicious - which is a key objective that seems to have been overlooked at many mainstream food stores. Whole Foods can be great. Its Bryant Park store in New York is a cathedral of food. However, some blocks down, its 7th Avenue store is a dark, miserable and cramped space. Finally, I have to mention AJ's (part of Bashas') here in Arizona. Its format could do with an update, but it is always an experience to visit and its deli, bakery and sushi counters are full of tempting treats. These good players understand food and they understand what shoppers want and they are innovative -- something that the largest players seem to have forgotten.
  • Posted on: 11/13/2018

    Will right-sized stores drive bigger returns for Macy’s?

    There is no doubt that Macy's is right to shrink the size of some of its stores. Many are designed for the retail environment of yesteryear and are massively overstocked in terms of assortments, especially in fashion. However, bad performance is also a function of what Macy's does in its stores, not just the size of them. Shrinking down will only work if Macy's improves curation, merchandising and overall store environments. Failure on these fronts is one of the reasons many larger stores have failed to deliver. That's the heart of the problem and it needs to be corrected.
  • Posted on: 11/12/2018

    Amazon and Apple get co-opetitive

    In some ways Apple and Amazon compete. In other ways they don't. However, they are both giants that are popular with consumers so there is no harm in working together when it makes sense.
  • Posted on: 11/12/2018

    Is it time for U.S. retailers to embrace Singles Day?

    I think it will become more common, especially as it is already important to many Chinese Americans. However, retailers need to take care in what they import. Singles Day comes just a bit before Black Friday and too much focus on it will simply dilute the impact of Black Friday sales. It will also mean another period of deep promotional discounts, which is arguably the last thing retailers need. For this reason, I think there will be a reluctance to embrace it too heavily.
  • Posted on: 11/12/2018

    Why do Millennials love private label groceries so much?

    A lot of this comes down to the failure of big CPG to adapt to younger shoppers. Just look at the brand ethos and packaging design of some of the products from giants like Kraft-Heinz: they are old-fashioned and dull. So, younger shoppers (and increasing numbers of older shoppers) shun them. Retailers, like Target, have seen an opportunity to fill this gap by beefing up their own brands. Market Pantry was revamped a few years ago to make it more aspirational and fun, which appeals to younger consumers. The new Smartly label goes even further. Things like pack sizes on items like trash bags are specifically designed for the smaller-space apartments of many Millennials. On top of all of this is the value for money which most private labels offer. That's appealing to many more consumers nowadays -- young and old.
  • Posted on: 11/09/2018

    Why are Wall Street analysts so irked over Apple’s reporting changes?

    iPhone sales volumes growth is slowing -- mainly because the replacement cycle is lengthening as prices increase and upgrades have become more incremental than revolutionary. Apple would probably rather that data not be too public. It is also the case that Apple is growing other revenue streams and does not want so much focus on the iPhone, important though it is. If the Street of Dreams wasn't so short-termist and reactionary then companies would likely disclose more information.
  • Posted on: 11/08/2018

    Will Walmart’s bring your own device policy work for it and its associates?

    It is cost effective, viewed favorably by workers, and gives staff a nice benefit of a reduction in their phone bills. Lots of things to like! A slight concern is around security, but this is an area most retailers will be conscious of. Another consideration is professionalism: retailers don't want associates standing round using devices for personal use - but this is something that can be easily addressed through training and HR policy.
  • Posted on: 11/08/2018

    What will Instacart’s new grocery pickup service mean for home delivery?

    This is a good move for both Instacart and those retailers that partner with it. There are lots of reasons shoppers sometimes favor click-and-collect over home delivery and it is a fast growing part of the market. Moreover, it is more cost effective for retailers and Instacart to service consumers when they collect from store. The main threat for Instacart is if retailers decided to "go it alone" once online sales reach a critical volume. However, for the time being, Instacart's website, its service and general proposition are strong and it provides a genuine solution for retailers.
  • Posted on: 11/08/2018

    CVS’ new concept is about the health of its customers

    This is a good move by CVS. In my view this concept, where possible and space permits, should be integrated into existing stores - with an upgrade of the whole store environment. CVS already has more than enough stores in very convenient locations, it seems imprudent to open more outlets, even if they are dedicated to health. Being a one-stop shop for health, beauty and wellness needs is what CVS should aim for.

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