Monthly Archives: April 2013

Alive and Clicking


As Jessops and HMV are saved from oblivion, Daniel Todaro, managing director of field marketing agency Gekko, considers using the internet to drive sales in-store and help ensure the future of face-to-face retailing.

It might have been freezing in March but the sun certainly shone on Jessops when it was revived with fire from a dragon.

It really is fantastic news that Peter Jones has bought the company and rather than just moving it online, he’s revitalising the current model to create 40 new stores. With so much of the high street littered with empty stores, it’s encouraging to see a company come back from administration and open for business. It’s not an easy decision to plough cash into a defunct retailer but it’s the right one and the high street needs more champions to restore it to former glory.

Recent news has also confirmed that HMV is being brought back from the brink by Hilco. The new owner is planning to concentrate on music and merchandise rather than film and electronics with a £50 million rescue package. Like Jessops, Hilco is amending the business model but keeping the stores to maintain the high street presence to give customers that interaction with knowledgeable staff.

The interest in music and the digital imaging category is one that will continue to remain popular so it makes sense to retain the businesses even if it means amending previous models. Unlike Blockbuster, the near extinction of the photography retailer is one that shouldn’t have been a formality, and is one that could have had wide reaching implications for the entire tech retail sector. The loss of Jessops on the high street would have meant there was no credible specialist chain for the imaging category, leaving the plethora of camera product ranges to battle it out within the broader electrical retailers (competing alongside laptops, sound systems, white goods etc). Consequently expert in-store advice for amateur photographers on cameras would be hard to come by on the high street. Beginner and professionals would yet again be pushed to explore reviews and advice online; while it’s a useful source of information, it’s by no means rigorous.

Amazon and other online suppliers might be the easy option for those wanting to buy a camera from the comfort of a sofa, but if we keep neglecting the specialist bricks and mortar, they simply won’t be able to survive; exactly the plight of Jessops and HMV. An over-reliance on such online merchants is going to be of detriment to us all; we’ll ultimately be the ones who lose out on the day out at the shops.

As a nation of shoppers, in the UK we’re blessed with choice, choice to purchase from a specialist focussed on a specific category; a USP that Apple amongst many others work to amazing effect. A visit to the local hardware shop for example entails more than the sole purchase of the product. It’s the social aspect, the expertise and the positive feeling that comes through engaging with the local community. But most of all, it is fun and fulfilling. Humans are social creatures and while digital is a marvellous thing, it can’t, nor should it ever replace legitimate face-to-face human interaction and the manner in which it can bring people together. Communities are dying being put off from venturing into boarded up high streets. Jessops stores will aid other retailers to survive by drawing consumers back to the high street. Is challenge now is to move on from the negative press and be the drivers of a high street renaissance.

The shopping experience has always been much more than the point of purchase, which is what makes it so valuable. It would be naive to say shopping online should be banned but encouraging the use of click could drive a transaction. Taking the pain out of roaming endless stores by doing it online and then collecting in-store will still allow people to get on the spot advice and support on products. Jessops have taken this idea on board and reflected it into the new business model with plans under way to relaunch the website with a focus on click-and-collect.

Peter Jones has had the right idea about bringing 40 new stores into the equation for Jessops and HMV is set to follow suit. By bringing back 300 of the most passionate staff that lost their jobs in January Mr Jones is already off to a good start to restore the company’s digital imaging expertise. The best way to keep the iconic brands going and safe from returning to administration is by investing further in staff and retaining that vital in-store experience. The new stores will provide face to face interactions for customers who need advice and information on products.  Keeping a national high street presence will allow staff to drive sales and extra add ons with in store demonstrations; something you ultimately can’t get online.

Gekko shortlisted again


Field Marketing agency Gekko are proud to have made the shortlist of the ‘LondonlovesExcellence Awards’

The LondonlovesExcellence Awards are presented by and London Chamber of Commerce & Industry and are billed as London’s most sought-after business awards. These awards are unique for two reasons: first, they are led by one of industry’s most respected figures, Willie Walsh, Chief Executive of International Airlines Group and President of the London Chamber of Commerce. And second, together with Willie Walsh, they will be judged by arguably the best line-up of business figures, entrepreneurs and public figures assembled in decades.

Winners will be announced at a gala dinner on June 25th, hosted by Katie Derham and bringing together more than 350 senior guests representing London’s business leaders, entrepreneurs and government, to acknowledge and celebrate the fantastic achievements of London’s business community.

Brands on high streets


Sir: Ed Miliband’s veto plan is absurd (‘Retail leaders attack Miliband plan for local veto on high-street shops’,, 11 April). It’s headline-grabbing, but for all the wrong reasons why on earth would you be willing to jump into the mire so carefully crafted by Cameron, highlighted by the already-failing Portas Pilot initiatives? The coalition appointment has failed on so many levels, so why try and take part?

Initiatives are needed that truly bring life back to dead commercial business districts, so here’s an idea: why not get corporations to sponsor the high street? Why couldn’t P&G, say, take over empty retail units and offer not only a selection of its own brands, but also give space to small business and students to showcase and sell their products and talents?

It’s time for corporations to demonstrate their social responsibility. They may not pay all the tax they’re obliged to, but they could at least help inspire the people who buy their products.

Daniel Todaro, MD, Gekko

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Waitrose can make a success of gardening range


Waitrose’s decision to grow its gardening and floristry range is based on good business sense (sales of plants up by 25% last year and the growth of the industry as a whole on the rise), but its success will depend on how committed it remains to the sector.

Any foray into new territories by established brands such as Waitrose are likely to enjoy success initially, even if just for the novelty value.  However, for it to enjoy continued success in a market which is clearly set for bigger and better things, it needs to show customers that it is serious about the sector and demonstrate consistency, innovation and originality. The advantage Waitrose has, of course, is that its customer set is known to include those for which gardening is a key interest, alongside cooking, an area which Waitrose has managed to successfully build upon in terms of its product offering  The route they need to take with the gardening sector is to similarly offer expert advice on the products and lines they are introducing and guide its customers to support a hobby they are already invested in.

In terms for the brands in this sector, the key for them is to recognise Waitrose as a major player, competing with the likes of B&Q and Homebase. Once Waitrose has the brands on its side, it will have a much easier job of winning the customers over.  By engaging with customers directly, hosting in-store activity alongside brands and showcasing its strengths as a platform for these brands to interact with people, Waitrose will have a real chance of establishing themselves as a real contender in the gardening market.

Rupert Cook, Business Development Director, Gekko

Bellwether Report: industry reaction


The latest Bellwether report predicts that 2013 will bring a rise in marketing budgets and confidence overall, with positivity about company performance the highest that it has been in a year, despite businesses expecting to face challenging times ahead.

Here, Newsline has captured industry reaction to the report’s findings, with opinion from adconnection, MEC, Essence, G2 Joshua, Dialogue, Jaywing, Volume and Gekko.

It’s no surprise to see ad spend predicted to dip in 2013, only to rise again triumphantly in 2014. It’s well documented the lack of activity for the nation to get excited about this summer, and the continuing industry pessimism clearly reflects the cautious approach marketers have.

Looking to the future, marketers need to heed the lessons of the year past. While the summer of 2012 represented a wonderfully unique period, in which Britain was able to shine at its very brightest, to view it as an anomaly would be foolish.

The ’empty’ year we face ahead in 2013 is an issue on the lips of many, but the solution already lies in front of us – the power of face-to-face human interaction. What characterised the London Olympics wasn’t just the remarkable success of our athletes, but how the whole occasion was brought to life by the huge army of volunteers and their unrelenting, inspirational and uplifting enthusiasm.

Just because there’s no major global sporting event or Jubilee to highlight the summer ahead, it doesn’t mean marketers should immediately cast aside what is an incredibly power and valuable marketing tool. In austere times consumers do want value, but most of all they want relevant, engaging experiences.

Of course, the uncertainty of the economy (and welfare in general) is having an effect on consumer shopping habits and behaviours; and I imagine this is being acknowledged by brands when budgeting to some extent. While 2013 requires brands to be brave, the brave will win if they get the message right. With no distractions ahead, what better time to surprise and delight?

Daniel Todaro

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(Paid) interns mean talent, value and profit


Paid internships are not just for the FTSE 100. SMEs who offer paid roles for young people can attract greater talent, add value and ultimately boost business.

Daniel Todaro, managing director of Gekko argues: “Unpaid interns may be a method of balancing the books right now, but how about in ten or twelve months’s time when the business has little continuity, low morale, employees fearing for their jobs, and zero stability. The old adage of spending money to make money could not be truer, and that investment has to be in people first.”

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