Head to head: Louise Banham, Editor in chief at Newtrade
Tell us about your new role at Newtrade – what does it involve?
I lead a great team of journalists working across three print and two web brands – RN, Retail Express, Better Wholesaling, betterRetailing.com and betterwholesaling.com. We focus on connecting independent convenience retailers and wholesalers to ideas and information that will help them run growing, more profitable businesses.
What are the most rewarding parts of your job?
Hearing from retailers we’ve helped. Being an independent working in store is like being lonely in a crowd. They don’t necessarily have a network of peers to ask for advice and RN and Retail Express connect them to support and guidance. There’s a lot of noise in this market, so we cut through to the news that matters. As well as being on hand to help retailers solve a problem, I love hearing how Newtrade has played a part in helping retailers excel.
What are the key issues and trends impacting retail convenience at the moment and how are you helping retailers to find solutions?
Two big impacts are wage rises imposed by the government and big rates bills, at a time when margins are being squeezed and, in many parts of the country, shoppers have less money to spend. We travel throughout the UK visiting retailers who are finding success by asking the right questions and doing what works. For example, there are opportunities with food to go, but it requires retailers to rethink how they organise their shops and their staff. Our team prides itself on visiting more shops and getting out into the world to track down success stories.
What are your predictions for the future of the channel in 2018?
If you stand still it will be tough. But we have seen time and time again that those retailers who are willing to change and try something new do stand out from the competition. The first three and a half months of 2018 have been hugely eventful in terms of consolidation and suppliers exiting the market, and I expect more to come this year.
You will have visited a number of convenience stores in this, and your previous role as Editor of Retail Express, which ones particularly stand out and why?
There are so many that stand out. I was very impressed with two retailers who are being innovative with foodservice: Dan Cock in Cornwall and his ‘bring your own plate’ takeaway Sunday roasts, and Mital Morar, who brings different street food vendors into his Manchester store every week. It was also great to meet Robert Kirkwood, who has cleverly fit a full convenience offer into his 450sq ft store in Scotland. Further afield, I visited Amazon Go in Seattle in February and it was a real eye-opener in terms of how we can expect technology to aid and interrupt convenience shoppers in the future.
What more can suppliers be doing to support the channel?
Like our retailer audiences, suppliers are facing a lot of change and pressure from their bosses to get fast results. I recommend that they should take time to get to know the people at Newtrade and our brands, so they can see how we can get cut through for their ideas and a real return on investment from their efforts. Retailers need to understand opportunities in a way that resonates with them. Suppliers that have partnered with RN, Retail Express, Better Wholesaling and betterRetailing.com and our large network of retailers and wholesalers, see real sales results and gain all-important advocates for their businesses and brands.
If you could have had any job in the world, other than the one you have now, what would it be and why?
I’m a huge fan of musical theatre. I’m trained in dance and began performing on stage at the age of three – I still perform at least three times a year. So, in my dream world, I would be good enough and tough enough to do it professionally!