Author: Cyril Richert
The RSA presented its report on the future of retail at the horizon of 2020. They argue that building a future retail model which coordinates corporate operations to maximise local social an economic impact will become a key competitive advantage in a decade, in which traditional physical stores are set to experience transition and disruption.
Building on six months of research with three Asda stores (Clapham Junction, Tilbury and Oldham), this Asda funded report sets out the business case and the social drivers of change.
It provides a roadmap for how a large retailer like Asda can evolve to co-produce a future shared value retail model: one that is locally adaptable and supported by corporate organisational strength.
They recommend how retailers can take action to develop a shared value retail model and how Asda can transition, building on the experience gained in their innovative and ambitious Community Life programme, to develop a community venturing function.
In their recommendations for the retail sector they say that the business should undertake community development activities and explore new shared value ventures locally. It sets out the principles for a local autonomy of retail stores and urge them to engage locally.
It could take several forms, such as using the store as a recruitment hub for volunteering, bringing leisure and entertainment activities into stores and car parks, and endowing community trusts with unused assets.
The event featured a panel debate including Nick Hurd MP, Minister for Civil Society; Paul Kelly, Asda External Affairs Director; Alana Renner, Deputy Communications Director at the Post Office; Laura Bunt, Head of Policy Research at Citizens Advice; and chaired by Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the RSA. This will be preceded by discussions with Asda employees who champion community engagement, and followed by a Q&A with the panel more generally.
Alana Renner said that the Post Office is currently exploring how to improve their branches to combine more social and commercial success (maybe there is something to do with Asda which is next door!). Paul Kelly said that the business is different from that of 2008 and that the society expectations have changed. Nick Hurd, MP gave 2 advices: 1- be ambitious; 2- be committed to it.
The future will show the shape of the business involvement. The audience raised interesting questions: While the State is withdrawing and the business is profit driven, where can we draw the line? And what happens if local community interest conflicts with local government plans/commercial interest and create tensions?
In any case, we look forward to opportunities to work with Asda Clapham Junction!
The RSA is a 250 year old charity, specialised in public services and organisation. They undertake influential and varied research projects and their work is supported by 27,000 Fellows, an international network of influencers and innovators from every field and background.
Asda Clapham Junction is the largest retail unit in the town centre. They employ 420 people and the supermarket is open 24 h/day from Monday to Saturday 11pm, Sunday 10am-5pm. The RSA worked through interviews of many community stakeholders and a workshop held in the PCS building mid-July 2013.
The RSA report 2020 Retail: Shopping for Shared Value is available for download HERE.