Welcome to the Ruck Blog!

Hello and thanks for visiting our blog - here you will find interesting articles on what's happening in the world of point sale, visual merchandising and display innovation.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Jubilee Celebrations - Just The Boost Retailers Need!

Unless you're living as a hermit I'm sure you'll be well aware of the upcoming Jubilee celebrations! Retailers are doing a roaring trade in bunting and British Jubilee themed lines as people prepare for the 60th Anniversary of our Queens reign. One John Lewis store completely sold out of some lines at the weekend! There are promotions a plenty and brands are making the most out of the event!

With a very loooong weekend of celebrations planned lots of us have taken the rest of the week off too! The official celebrations are 2-5th June, with Monday the 4th and Tuesday the 5th as bank holidays.

So in honour of our lovely Queen this blog is dedicated to her - long may she reign over us, happy and glorious and all that!

This 60th year anniversary marks her Diamond Jubilee - her Golden Jubilee was celebrated in 2002 (50 years) and her Silver Jubilee was in 1977 (25 years)...also the year Elvis died and I was born! The competition for the Jubilee emblem was won by a 10 year old girl below and appears on commemorative items and posters etc.

Diary of Events:

Saturday 2nd June the festivities start with the Epsom Derby races, which the Queen will attend.

Sunday 3rd June it's the Big Jubilee Lunch - lunch parties will be held up and down the country.

Monday 4th June -  BANK HOLIDAY for the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant which will see over 1,000 boats in a large flotilla along the Thames "celebrating design, music, art, film, fashion and food from the past 60 years". Tickets for public viewing in London's Battersea Park are available still.

Tuesday 5th June - BANK HOLIDAY starting with a royal procession to a national service of thanksgiving held at St Paul's Cathedral, which will include a prayer written especially. Later on there will be a procession through London, ending with an RAF fly by as the royal family reach their balcony.

There will be a concert celebration at Buckingham Palace held by the BBC, performers include:  Shirley Bassey, Alfie Boe, Jools Holland, Jessie J, JLS, Elton John, Tom Jones, Lang Lang, Annie Lennox, Madness, Paul McCartney, Kylie Minogue, Cliff Richard, Ed Sheeran and Stevie Wonder and will be attended by The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh and other members of the royal family.

Finally in the evening 4,000 beacons will be lit in the UK and all over the world to mark the end of the celebrations and the Queens 60 year reign over the 54 commonwealth states:

Antigua & Barbados, Australia, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Botswana, Brunei, Cameroon, Canada, Cyprus, Dominica, Fiji (currently suspended), Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Seychelles, Samoa, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomons, South Africa, Sri Lanka, St Kitts, St Lucia, St Vincent, Swaziland, Tanzania, Tonga, Trinidad, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Kingdom, Vanuatu, Zambia, Zimbabwe (currently out).

 Our National Anthem with lyrics ...in case you need to get practising!

Enjoy the celebrations!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

The Cost of Failed Deliveries & Missed Time Slots

What is the cost of failed deliveries for the UK Retail Sector?

Just recently Tesco's complained that haulage companies cost them £50 million in lost revenue last year and have now started fining their top 40 suppliers for missed loads. It's such a high turnaround in the docking bays each delivery gets a 2 hour window to unload...they get half an hour after their allocated start time to turn up and after that are turned away and a new time slot needs rebooking, which can be days away in some cases.
With UK roads becoming more and more congested it is becoming increasingly difficult to hit the time slots booked in. It only takes an accident or some road works to take out a motorway for a couple of hours and the knock on effect can be disastrous for a driver’s schedule.          
We often see European lorries parked up for days around here waiting to tip their loads - the further they come the more likely they are to miss their delivery times, even with plenty of contingency in place. So what do they do with missed loads? If they are part of a large network with depots they can deliver in to then the driver can get back on schedule. If they aren't then it means waiting....it means the transport manager needs to deploy other vehicles to pick up the jobs the driver waiting with the missed loads can't get to..it means rebooking in another time slot. One big headache for the office staff, long periods of unproductive down time for the driver.

So we came up with a solution to this and are about to launch this new service for failed deliveries! Our M.D is full of great ideas - he's a real problems solver and after seeing some European hauliers parked up near our warehouse for days at a time he thought of the idea of offering a failed delivery service.
We have an extensive fleet of vehicles, extensive warehouse space at our premises and access to warehousing elsewhere where we can receive in their loads, rebook a new time slot and redeliver the load successfully on behalf of them.  They can on with their next jobs and get back to mainland Europe. For perishable goods we can dispose of them if they cannot be booked back in on time, freeing up the vehicle and driver to get on with the next job.

Any thoughts or suggestions about this new service would be most welcome - what are your experiences? What do you think the cost impact is for your company, either retailer or logistics?

Monday, 14 May 2012

The Retail Sectors Least Effected by The Recession Are...

It's all been doom and gloom lately in the news but its not all bad news for retail as there are sectors within retail that are recession proof and even benefit from tough times. Let's look at what those are and why they are successful.

It's safe to say that the Luxury goods sector doesn't take much of a hit...the very rich stay rich and aren't really effected by the rises in prices etc. However the other side of the coin is that your average person will splash out on little luxury's as they treat themselves to affordable luxury items and give up the more expensive new cars or the exciting holidays. So sales of chocolate, beauty, perfume etc remain strong...all of my favourite things.

The gardening & DIY sector has massively benefited as people give up things like expensive travel they look to improving their home environments themselves, gardening being a relatively cheap hobby that is rewarding.

Hotel Chocolat has gone from a small online ordering supplier to a huge success over the years, now opening high street stores and this week its first airport shop! A perfect example of how the high end chocolate trade is healthy in our current economic situation.

Fast food - as people opt for cheaper comfort food, fast food chains such as McDonald's see the benefit of the recession. Out of 10,000 adults surveyed recently by the Health Food Manufacturers’ Association (HFMA) a third of 18-24 year olds said they opted for fast food because it was cheaper.

Condom sales are actually up this year - as people give up the nights out and stop in... clearly making their own entertainment! The other contributing factor is thought to be couples not being able to afford more children and taking more precautions.

Nail polish sales are booming as people treat themselves to a little personal care luxury, said to be the new lipstick treat.  Soap, bath, shower and haircare products are pretty recession proof but then people will always need to wash!

Pet products - we are still pampering our pets despite the tough economic situation, a nation of pet lovers we are spending billions a year on our pets, most of which would hardly notice a recession was on!

A lot of our installation jobs have been around the beauty industry lately, promoting the goods that are seemingly recession proof.
So with that lot of goodies it looks like we are rather enjoying the small things in life and having some fun! See it's not all bad news....now where is that chocolate...there's a recession on!

Friday, 11 May 2012

Worsening Euro Crisis and the Impact on UK Retail

The news this week that Spain's fourth largest bank is going to need a bailout, Greece can't vote in a government and the rapidly worsening situation in the Euro' zone as economies struggle to repay debts is pretty grim. Strong economies such as Germany and the UK are feeling the pinch, retail sales have been down in Germany during the first quarter of this year with oil prices the hardest hit. Italy's economy is shakiest at best and being the worlds 8th largest economy would likely collapse the Euro entirely. Britain recently pledged a further £10 billion to the IMF which will hardly make a dint in the colossal debt most European countries are in.
Mervyn King Governor of the Bank of England this week warned that the Euro' crisis was far from over and urged the government not to lose sight of reforms to shake up the baking sector due to come in to force in 2014/ 2015, separating retail banking from riskier investment banking.  All this amidst criticism from Frances newly elected president Francois Hollande that the UK is only interested in maintaining London's financial sector interests.
Today the news that America's largest bank JP Morgan have surprise losses of £1.2 billion and could have more losses is already impacting on global markets and stock shares.
Clinton's Cards this  week also got pushed in to administration by its largest supplier. Already WH Smith, American Cards and the Card Factory are interested ...but  a buy out would potentially safeguard some of the 8,000 jobs at risk.

Amid all the doom and gloom it's no wonder consumer confidence takes a bit of a knock and retailers find it harder to stimulate consumer spending. Typically in recession consumer spending habits are quite dramatically affected. However the first quarter of 2012 retail has not been too negative, seeing retail outlets grow by 4.9% with a net increase of 858 shops. The number of retail jobs has also increased by 0.4% compared to the same period last year.
Stephen Robertson British Retail Consortium Director General said "The small increase in overall retail employment for the first quarter of this year is encouraging but it is clear from our return to recession just how fragile any growth is. None of these jobs can be taken for granted. Retailers are more positive about their immediate employment intentions than a year ago, but the GDP figures confirm 2012 will still be very tough for businesses and households. If it's to rekindle growth the Government should not be putting extra tax and regulatory costs on retailers or consumers."
Its going to be a tough old year but events such as the Jubilee, European Cup and Olympics should positively impact on sales and may well be just what keeps the wolf from the door for many retailers. We are certainly seeing an increase in installations of promotions around these events, especially for the Olympics as the retailers invest in making the most of the opportunities in 2012.

Friday, 4 May 2012

What is the Retail Worth of the Star Wars Franchise?

Today is International Star Wars day! Who knew such a thing existed...or maybe it is in the back of my mind somewhere. Everyone's talking about it this morning - clearly more exciting than the local elections!

But it got me thinking - just how much is this massively successful franchise worth? The popularity doesn't seem to diminish with age and generations of children and adults have enjoyed the many films released over the years. The first star wars film was released the year I was born in 1977 - 35 years ago! I think all the of girls in my generation spent hours playing Princess Leia and trying to wrap our hair in the iconic ear buns! My brother had all the little action figures and posters, and little boys played at being Luke Skywalker or Hans Solo. I can't remember how many times we saw the original films, but multiply that by the millions of other people across the world and across that time span and it's a whole lot of success! The POS sale displays over the years in toy shops, film rental shops, and supermarkets etc. are a good indication of the well oiled selling of this franchise.

So what's it worth?

According to 24/7 wallst. the franchise is worth $30 billion dollars and still growing with the release of computer games and the first of the new 3D film releases, The Phantom Menace coming up. They have taken the time to work it all out and as they say trying to calculate the worth of a franchise over 35 years is not an easy task. With the release of all the films in 3D this $30 million mark will be left far behind, as the Star Wars phenomenon continues to grow!

The $30 billion is made up of around $20 billion in licensing sales (toys, books, apparel etc), $3 billion in video games, $2.5 billion in DVD sales, $800 million in film rentals.

George Lucas' personal wealth is estimated at between $3.2 and $3.6 billion, putting him firmly on the Forbes top 400 rich list. The force is definitely with George!

So...may the 4th be with you today - International Star Wars Day!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Is It May-Day For Some Retailers?

With many retailers reporting lower takings in the first quarter of this year and the UK falling in to a double dip recession, is it May-Day for some retailers?

With big established brand names like Mothercare closing 111 stores, putting 370 jobs at risk, Home Retail Group (Argos & Homebase) struggling, Carpet Right, WH Smith and even M&S it's definitely an SOS call for many retailers.

There are of course several companies bucking the trend and seem to be doing well out of the recession. Adidas for example reporting sales are up by 38% on last year, Unilever, Starbucks, AB World Foods - Primark, and the John Lewis Group all reporting profits are up, but overall more retailers are reporting sales are down than ones reporting they are up. Even the panic buying injection that impacted on March's rise wasn't enough to stop us dropping in to double dip recession.

It's not just the UK but all across the Eurozone with retail sales  in the three biggest economies:- Germany, France and Italy's all at their lowest since 2008, the second lowest on record.
History of May Day:

Our perception of May Day celebrations comes from the hangover of traditions in villages from medieval times where young men and women would dance round a maypole, which was made from brightly decorated branches and ribbons. The villagers hold on to the ribbons and dance round the pole, symbolising springtime and fertility. There was also a woman born on or nearest to May 1st that would be appointed a May Queen, and sometimes a May King, dressed in green. Pagan groups call May Day Beltane.
As with most traditions they can be traced further back; a festival existed in ancient Rome called Floralia which took place at the end of April and was dedicated to the flower Goddess Flora. On May 1 offerings were made to the Goddess Maia, after which the month of May is named.

In the middle ages the church tolerated the May Day celebrations but with the Protestant Reformation of the 17th century they soon came to an end as the racuous behaviour that often accompanied the drinking and dancing shocked puritans and in 1644 Parliament banned maypoles.

When Charles II was restored to the throne a few years later people put up maypoles in celebration. The Victorians made May Day popular again in the 19th century but a lot of the pagan symbolism in the days events were left out and instead of a fertility ritual, dancing round the maypole became more of a children's game.

In folklore it was said getting up before dawn and going outside to wash your face in the morning dew kept the complexion beautiful. Whilst getting up early the gathering of flowers to 'Bring in the May' for making in to garlands to pass to friends and family during the festivities was also a tradition, as well as the giving of May baskets of flowers as gifts.

So lets hope today's ancient festival of new beginnings, fertility and abundance helps to boost the retail sector, and our struggling retailers manage to weather the storm and survive. The Olympics should give the retail sector a lift with companies investing in lots of promotional materials themed with this and other events taking place this year.

A shaky start to the year for most but as the year progresses, and the events unfold it should give the retail sector a well needed revival.