PROFILE

Stuart Jackson

Managing Director, Regency Analysis
Stuart Jackson is Managing Director and founder of Regency Analysis, a London-based M&A advisory firm. Regency provides individual investors, families and smaller retail-focus funds with specialist insight and advice on retail investment opportunities in the UK, Europe and North America. A high-street retail veteran, Stuart has worked in almost every area and aspect of the industry. Stuart began his career working in retail stores as a teenager before moving into management. Bitten by the retail bug he taught himself everything he could and, after a number of false starts, landed a job at a large London investment bank, overlooking their retail research and analysis. Changing direction, he then worked for a number of smaller family offices, coordinating investment in retail on behalf of individuals and families. In 2016, he founded Regency Analysis, spotting a gap in the market to provide individual investors with insight and guidance on high-street opportunities they cannot get elsewhere. He strongly believes that there are still great opportunities to invest in traditional retail, and that while technology has disrupted the industry, there is still a place for strong and attractive brands on the high street. For more information visit: regencyanalysis.com
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  • Posted on: 02/07/2018

    What’s holding retailers back from making workforce investments?

    I’m not sure it’s traditional notions holding the sector back. In my view it’s more of a case of not understanding the value of employee engagement. According to figures from Gallup, 51 percent of the U.S. workforce is not engaged, and a Workjam survey found that a paltry 17 percent of retail managers feel their employees are "very motivated and engaged." That same study found that 55 percent of retail managers say the head office rarely or never recognizes hourly employees for doing good work. So basically, many retail employees don’t feel valued by their company; they don’t understand the brand’s mission and they have little time to drive forward the company’s vision. Engaging the workforce is not about throwing more money at them -- though it helps. If retailers really want to see results they should be investing in employee engagement over and above everything else.
  • Posted on: 02/06/2018

    U.K. group has big plans for U.S. after buying Kroger’s c-stores

    Whatever you do, don’t underestimate the owners of EG Group, Mohsin and Zuber Issa. They started out inheriting a single derelict fuel station from their father in 2001. The Group is now the largest independent fuel retailer in the whole of Europe and with the Kroger acquisition the company generates $18.5bn. That’s an astonishing achievement in the space of 17 years. The business knows pretty much everything there is to know about convenience retailing and they’ve made strong, high-profile partnerships with companies including SPAR, Starbucks, Burger King and KFC. I expect EG Group to be successful, there’s no doubt about it, and I would expect them to act fast too.
  • Posted on: 02/05/2018

    Amazon launches “$10 or Less” store

    This fits perfectly with Amazon’s strategy. They’re a business built on diversification. They want to wrap themselves around every purchasing decision we make and get into every area of our life. They want us to ask, constantly: “Can I get it cheaper on Amazon?” And they’re never satisfied. Amazon want to own the whole supply chain and sales cycle and they won’t stop until they do. It’s sometimes difficult to believe that they started out just selling books. Scary though this rapid and broad growth might be, it’s a lesson for many retailers. Amazon are the original disruptors and they know how to fail fast. If this doesn’t work, in 12 months’ time it’ll be gone.
  • Posted on: 02/02/2018

    Whole Foods planning more 365 stores

    Co-location is definitely the way to go. It’s happening a lot in the U.K. right now with supermarket chain Sainsbury’s acquiring homeware retailer Habitat and opening concessions in their grocery stores. But then supermarkets have been selling clothes and homewares for years, so it’s not that big a surprise. And it works both ways round. Marks & Spencer has been doing it for years. Many of their outlets have small Simply Food branches inside their stores -- you just walk from browsing clothes straight into buying your groceries. Both sides of the business benefit, and we’re going to be seeing different brands partnering much more frequently from now on.
  • Posted on: 02/01/2018

    Should retailers ramp up investments in AI for employees?

    The terms AI or machine learning cover a huge span of technologies, some of which are happening now such as the algorithms that drive chatbots and AI that analyzes social network interactions looking for patterns and reacting accordingly. Others will expand rapidly once proven, such as AI in the supply and logistics chains that can "learn" to predict stock levels across the whole of a company’s estate in real time, helping to avoid items being out of stock, or ensuring that overstocked items are put on promotion. But other stuff I just can’t see happening for a very long time, like in-store robot assistants. I just don’t think customers will like it; they come to a store for human interaction. At the moment, apart from maybe the tech and marketing teams, I can’t see a reason why retailers should spend any money or lose sleep over AI.
  • Posted on: 01/30/2018

    FMI says switch to online grocery sales going faster than expected

    I can’t believe food retailers are surprised by the growth in online -- although it does seem high. People still want to go and choose their own groceries in-store but the main issue is the fact that many of the largest grocers have more brick-and-mortar outlets than they’re going to need in the future. But what do they do? It’s a tricky balancing act because the upstart discounters such as Aldi and Lidl can afford to acquire retail space and are prepared to open smaller stores just to put their brand next to yours. The best thing they can do right now is make sure that their own online offering is better than their competition. Really invest in the customer experience and make the experience so easy and so fast that customers will stay loyal and never be tempted to try elsewhere.
  • Posted on: 01/29/2018

    Are marketers ignoring female Baby Boomers?

    I totally agree. This is a perennial problem and it’s getting worse. It’s the same for us men too. It seems that once a customer gets over 50, they cease to be a target for High Street brands of all kinds. I always find this rather odd because not only are Western populations aging but people in their late-50s and even older could still have children or teenagers living at home, and are therefore hardly one foot in the grave, mentally or physically. Older customers generally have larger disposable incomes and a much more youthful outlook than they’re given credit for. It’s a huge growing market and stores need to wake up, drop their preconceived ideas, update their marketing and start tapping into it. While some retailers are aware, I still think they’re not trying hard enough to understand what older customers really want from them. They need to start asking what they want rather than relying on outdated stereotypes.
  • Posted on: 01/26/2018

    What will 7-Eleven do with all its new stores?

    The whole idea of a big weekly or monthly shop in a supermarket doesn’t appeal to quite as many people these days. It’s a hassle, inconvenient and time consuming, especially when we’re all working longer hours. It’s much easier, though not always cheaper, to pick up groceries on your way to or from work. That’s why, certainly in the U.K., the convenience store market is growing fast. In 2016 they took £37.5 billion out of £179 billion total grocery sales, according to research and it’s reckoned that this will grow by more than 11 percent over the next three years. Adding more stores makes sense for 7-Eleven -- capitalize on these changing consumer habits, grow your footprint, explore pick and collect solutions and get deeper into your customers’ psyche with great local marketing.
  • Posted on: 01/24/2018

    How will blockchain disrupt retail?

    The idea of blockchain is fantastic. But what no one ever says is that there are currently no actual real-world examples of it working in action outside of the bitcoin environment. And even there it’s debatable as to whether it’s really worth the hassle. If you look carefully you’ll see that companies are always "exploring" or "investigating" or "developing" or "trialling" the use of blockchain; and only sometimes are they actually using "blockchain-related technologies," i.e. not actual blockchain itself. Blockchain could well be used one day in the retail industry but don’t hold your breath. At the moment it’s prohibitively expensive even for the big banks and the jury is out on how much it adds to what’s available using Big Data and the cloud.
  • Posted on: 01/23/2018

    Is Macy’s heading for a rebound?

    Macy’s problems are similar to those of the U.K. store Marks and Spencer (M&S). The chairman of M&S said in December that the “business has been drifting, underfulfilling its customer promise not for five years, not 10 years but 15 years and maybe beyond.” He also acknowledge that one of the key problems is the running costs of their large number of stores. But sadly, what he didn’t say was that M&S has lost core customers because their fashion collections have been poor for a number of years, their website looks dated and their customer base is more educated and demanding than ever before, and they can buy better similar products online elsewhere. Some retailers will survive, some just won’t. I’m not putting bets on either Macy’s or M&S going the full distance if they don’t make really radical changes soon.
  • Posted on: 01/22/2018

    Amazon Go goes live

    Amazon Go will be a very big hit with shoppers! Let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to take the queuing out of buying their groceries? It’s also, in my view, the first real-world glimpse of the far future for the general public. I do expect Amazon to expand the concept but slowly -- they’ll need time to trial the technology properly but they’re well aware that, just as with autonomous vehicles, this store is the future. It might not ever be the norm across the board but it will certainly be common in the grocery sector. Customers want speed and convenience and we now have the technology to make that a reality. Amazon won’t pass up the opportunity to get ahead of their competitors, so far ahead that they’re uncatchable, and yes I’d expect at some point that they’ll use Whole Foods as a testbed.
  • Posted on: 01/19/2018

    Is personalization the new loyalty?

    Will personalization replace “spend and save”? Yes, definitely, in the long term but not yet. According to Nielsen, only Finland beats the U.K. for the number of shoppers who have a loyalty card – or several; they are big business here but really only in the food and pharmacy sectors. Fashion has largely ditched its cards because of the growth in online shopping, and eventually this will happen across the board. Some people have always been immune to physical loyalty cards, and so they’re not as effective as they might be. The problem is, people are still not comfortable with providing enough information for retailers to create great personalization. But I think this will change and retailers can push this evolution along by targeting the customers who have a higher propensity to buy, and really making sure that every communication is personalized and varied too, from regular email newsletters with offers to free samples and tailored direct mail. When customers start to see the rewards for handing over their information they’ll start doing it for every retailer regardless of sector.
  • Posted on: 01/18/2018

    Walmart CEO: ‘Retail is about change’

    Walmart is doing well and, yes, retail is all about change. But many retail businesses still have to create a good strong workplace and organizational culture before they can even start thinking about a change culture. They might need employees to be ready to embrace technology and be open to fast-paced change but unless you’ve got a good, solid workplace culture to start with, there’s no chance. You only need to read a few company reviews on Glassdoor to see that many retail brands put little or no effort into creating a company culture and employees are therefore left demoralized, disengaged and chronically unhappy. Retail is still, in many ways, an "us and them" business where frontline staff don’t always feel valued by head office or remote managers. Many don’t get the training and support they need and, increasingly, expect. A good culture increases engagement, retention and profits. But it hinges on great communication, a strong mission, vision and clear values. I’d love to believe that every retailer is ready to take the next step up and create a change culture to help them be fit for the future but, if we’re honest, we know they’re not.
  • Posted on: 01/16/2018

    Should showrooms replace closed stores?

    Showrooms are certainly a trend worth keeping an eye on, and they do solve the problems created when you remove a store from the community. Having a foothold, however small, can still drive sales, and helps keep up brand awareness. There’s certainly a growing appetite on the side of retailers. "Brand pavilions" are cropping up in London, spaces where leading brands and retailers come together and showcase their collections, the newest of these will be Silvertown Quays at the Royal Docks in east London, opening in March this year. US brands have also had success with the concept, allowing customers to try, buy online and come back to pick up, notably Bonobos and Everlane, who both have a number of showrooms, or Guideshops. Showrooms make sense because customers still want the intimate experience of seeing the clothes, checking quality and fit, and retailers can use the physical retail space more effectively. It might be counter-intuitive, but there is a trend towards using physical stores not to sell clothes but to drive traffic online.
  • Posted on: 01/15/2018

    Co-opetition with Amazon works for The Children’s Place

    As with all disruption, there’s no point in retailers just ignoring it, sticking their head in the sand and praying that it just goes away. Amazon and other big e-retailers exist and they are growing because they provide convenience and speed. I know it’s not a popular viewpoint, but I really do think that brick and mortar retailers can learn a lot from the online giants and partnering with them makes sound business sense. In fact, retail has been slower than many other sectors to embrace the opportunities that disruptive competitors present. Yes, Amazon is a big threat but it’s one that can be leveraged. Selling a small selection of products on Amazon – and many retailers in the U.K. choose to sell only sale products to shift oversupply -- builds name recognition, especially for smaller brands, and brings a filtered selection of products to a new audience. This can encourage customers to visit the physical store to check out what else they offer. It’s not the right strategy for every retailer – high-end brands might struggle to see any reward – but for many it is a case of: you can’t beat them so you’d better join them.

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