• Date: 8 January 2018
  • Posted By: admin

Happy New Year! This is probably your first Monday back at work after the Christmas & New Year holidays. So you might be feeling a little down – but our monthly blog should catch your interest and distract you from what for some is the most depressing day of the year. Of course, you might be one of those people who’s glad to get back to normal. Here at The Hub Retail Recruitment, we’re somewhere in the middle – we had a great Christmas & New Year, but equally are looking forward to getting 2018 off to a good start. Well, what have we got to tempt you with this first News Round of the year? There’s a lot of information coming out about how the retail sector did over its most lucrative period of the year; and there’s a lot coming out about the world of work. So we’re bringing you the news in two sections: The Ups and Downs of Christmas shoppingand The World of Work.



Poundland became engulfed in an accounting scandal which saw its shares tumbling by 80%, and its future in doubt – despite good sales figures. There does however seem to have been a financial bailout by its investors. But it’s also attracted an investigation by the Advertising Standards Authority over its Christmas adverts, featuring a Christmas elf which, for some 80 complainants were of a sexual nature.  See what you think.

ASA to investigate Poundland after swathe of complaints

Debenhams had a really poor Christmas. As you’ll read in this article, there is a view that its really down to Debenhams, and not just the difficult times all retailers are experiencing. Apparently it has too many stores, and didn’t respond quickly enough to the digital age. It bought in a new CEO Sergio Bucher, from Amazon, a year ago, who is implementing a turnaround strategy – which of course takes time, but some progress will need to be seen in 2018 if Debenhams is to survive.

Toys ‘R Us had a really difficult December. We remember when it was the toy retailer, but its definitely fallen behind its competitors. However, although on the brink, it did get an 11th hour reprieve – with creditors supporting its re-structuring plan. But it will still have to close 26 stores, with the loss of 700 jobs. And of course success isn’t guaranteed.

Toys R Us UK rescued from brink of collapse, saving 2500+ jobs

So that’s some of the bad news stories – let’s have a look at some of the good ones.


Next: A big surprise was Next’s sales – up by 1.5% after predicting it would be a negative 0.5%, thanks largely to increased on-line sales of 13.6%. This of course reflects the continued trend across all retailers of lower footfall in-store in favour of on-line shopping – in Next’s case, footfall was down 6.1%. Does this reflect your shopping habits these days? We comment on our own experience, below – see if it reflects yours.

Aldi: Aldi had a great Christmas, and for the first time in the UK, hit £10 billion in sales. Their premium range is certainly helping those figures – and if you haven’t used it yet, give it a try because we’ve certainly been impressed with it. And not only is it confident to deliver its expansion plan of 1000 stores by 2020, it has also committed to paying its staff the living wage of £8.75 per hour (£10.20 in London). Well done Aldi.

Others: It looks as if John Lewis had a good Christmas, and possibly Tesco’s too. This week, these are some of the retailers expected to publish their sales, so it’ll give us a much better picture of what’s happening out there – and therefore a reflection of our consumer confidence in the UK economy. Here’s a taster of what commentators are expecting.

Tesco, M&S, John Lewis, Sainsbury’s & Morrisons to publish Christmas results next week

Shopping habits: Footfall is definitely down. By nearly 5% on last year. Whilst on-line sales continue to grow at about 10% year on year. What were your shopping habits this Christmas? Ours definitely reflected the trend of on-line shopping. We did more of it this year than ever before, although we did do some in-store too. Why? We like to be able to save time shopping online where we can find the best buys easily. And avoid all the crushes in the shops, and driving round and round to find a car park space. So, less stress. But equally, there’s nowhere better for catching the Christmas atmosphere than on the High Street, with festive windows and magical street lighting. So that’s why we did both. What about you?


Fat cat pay: Although its come down by about 20%, executive pay is still outstripping average pay by 120:1. What that means to you and me is that by last Thursday, the fat cats had already earned what will take us the whole year to make. That’s very sobering.

Wage growth in 2018: Also very sobering is the TUC’s prediction that pay growth will be lower again this coming year, achieving less than 1%. Add that to inflation coming in at 3.1% in December, and that’s not a good picture. Interestingly enough, whilst two thirds of us say that pay, and pay increases, are the most important part of our reward packages, a third of us are also saying that flexible working is really important – so much so that if, for instance, we could work remotely, we’d forfeit a 3% pay increase. Is that how you feel?

Gender pay gap reporting: This is hotting up, with more than 500 businesses having now reported their gender pay gaps, ahead of the April 2018 deadline. There’s some interesting reading here – for instance, EasyJet report a 52% difference, and Virgin Money 33%. Both firms stress that men and women are paid equally for the same work. You might find that a bit confusing, but just to explain, it is illegal to pay men and women differently for the same work. Gender pay gap reporting looks at the whole business, irrespective of pay grade. But it does give a sense of what might be going on. So for instance, only 9% of EasyJet’s pilots are women, but it is working to increase that to 20%, whereas 69% of its cabin crew are women. There are examples of some businesses paying women more than men – for instance at Sweet Dreams, the mattress retailer, women are paid 35% more than men.  Read this BBC article on it, it’s very informative.

GDPR: The big piece of legislation coming up in 2018 is the General Date Protection Regulation. Employers will need to do a stock check to ensure they are complaint under the new regulations – and employees will want to check that the data that’s kept on them is relevant. And don’t forget we will all have the right to be forgotten! That won’t be easy in this digital age. The Information Commissioner has all the information you need at:

Well, that’s our round up for the start of 2018. We hope you found something of interest. And do come back for more in a month’s time. In the meantime, we wish you a very good 2018 from all of us at The Hub Retail Recruitment.