With a slew of big name high street brands entering administration in recent weeks (HMV, Jessops and now Blockbuster) retail industry watchers, investors and analysts, might be forgiven for wondering “who’s next?”
Perhaps the question, however, shouldn’t be a case of who’s next, but what’s next.
Several big name companies, once firmly embedded in the fabric of the British high street, have proven that there is life after the high street; a life beyond the confines of their humble bricks and mortar beginnings.
Zavvi and Woolworths for example are just two former-high street heavyweights that have found new fortunes and flourished online. In rebranding their former empires through home delivery services, these ex-high street mainstays became viable businesses once more, able to compete against the likes of Amazon, saving them from the retail scrapheap in the process.
The success of these kinds of brands isn’t just great news for the packaging supplies industry – which has soared thanks to the advent of online stores – but also consumers, who have more choice, lower prices and the ability to shop anytime they choose.
It’s more than likely that the current batch of embattled stores will also find a way to live on through their existing online channels; taking advantage of low overheads and a robust postal delivery service to continue to shift what stock they have left.
This undertaking isn’t an easy transition however: the latest high street casualties can expect to endure months of corporate restructuring and large scale investments in their packaging and supply chains before they can truly say that they’ve survived.
A shift in their marketing focus – towards the online space – as well as heavy investment in new eCommerce technologies and platforms (e.g. smartphone shopping) could also be on the cards.
Nonetheless, considering the trajectory of those who went before them, it seems likely that these now-ailing brands could revitalise – or re-package – themselves in a similar way.
If the latest comments from HMV administrator Deloitte are anything to go by – “We will continue to assess the longer term options for the business whilst continuing to trade” (BBC News, 21 January) – then a scale down of high street stores and a stronger online offering appears to be a near-certainty.
Ultimately, this can only mean good things for the packaging sector at large – and potentially the consumer too.
Jared Coleman is managing director of packaging supplies company Speedypack. Visit www.speedypack.co.uk