Retail Week Live is back for 2023 – and here are six of our highlights to look out for

Retail Week Live is back for 2023, and is delighted to again be attending and reporting from the event as a Media Partner.

Retailers: sign up here, and get 10% off the ticket price using our special code CIRWL10

Modestly described by its organisers as “the only retail event that matters”, Retail Week Live is back this month, taking place this time at London’s Intercontinental Hotel O2 from 28-29 March.

As always, the organisers at Retail Week have put together a stellar programme of speakers, featuring high-profile names alongside influential newcomers – and, once again, is delighted to be attending and reporting from the event as a Media Partner, following our previous participation in 2022 and 2021.

With parallel streams it’s never possible to see everything, but here, in no particular order, are just some of the sessions that Andrew and I are most looking forward to next week.

Keynote by Roisin Currie, CEO, Greggs

You can’t be from the North East and not admire Greggs, and it’s a brand that has truly taken off nationwide in recent years, whether that’s growing its well-received vegan range, collaborating on fashion ranges with Primark, adopting a cheeky but engaging tone on social media, or simply offering tasty treats at a great price point.

CEO at Greggs for less than a year, but with a 13-year history in the business, Roisin Currie promises to get #RWL2023 oLord mark Priceff to a great start with her opening keynote, sharing insights on Greggs’ culture and how the company keeps successfully evolving to give customers what they want.

Later on on the Tuesday, Roisin is back on stage for a discussion around company culture with Graham Bell, the CEO of B&Q, and the always engaging Lord Mark Price, formerly of Waitrose – another one added to our bookmarks. Fingers crossed we can get a snap for Twitter again!

Keynote by Ken Murphy, CEO, Tesco

The Retail Week Live programme isn’t currently giving much away about the keynote speech by Tesco CEO Ken Murphy, but when you’re the boss of the country’s biggest retailer – with unparalleled insights into customer data and shopping habits – what you have to say about the state of the sector is always going to be of interest.

Back in 2021, Ken appeared for his “fireside chat” in a pre-recorded piece on screen – with the Aldi Price Match logo memorably positioned directly behind him in every shot – so it will be good to have chance to see and hear him in the flesh, with no doubt some probing audience questions about topics as diverse as Clubcard rewards or supplier fees, as well as the traditional supermarkets’ continued efforts to see of Aldi and Lidl.

“Let’s talk… how much of your employee’s mental health is your responsibility?”

Employee wellbeing has been a big topic at Retail Week Live in recent years, with Retail Trust CEO Chris Brook-Carter – previously Retail Week’s own editor-in-chief – doing a great job of promoting the agenda around mental health and encouraging conversation and reflection.

It’s heartening that, among the retail leaders on stage at Retail Week over the last couple of years, there has always been a sense that creating an environment in which staff are happy, motivated and productive is a no-brainer – even if we can all cite recent examples of where some companies’ realities have not always matched the rhetoric.

This time, Chris’s colleague Cliff Lee heads to the the Retail Week stage as part of a session entitled “Let’s talk… how much of your employee’s mental health is your responsibility?”, exploring the question with the founder of Black Women in HR, Adese Okojie, and Pets at Home’s Chief People Officer, Rachel Mooney.

Retail Question Time with Iceland’s Richard Walker

Smart, articulate and admirably in touch with his customers, Iceland’s Richard Walker is one of retail’s best-known leaders, as well as one of the most eloquent and interesting.

Last year he appeared on an excellent “Wind down with the CEOs” panel to end the event on a high, and this time he’s taking part in a Q&A with Lisa Byfield-Green, Retail Week’s Data and Insights Director, where discussion will focus on the cost-of-living crisis.

We know Richard has strong opinions on the challenges facing his customers – and those values have become ever more prominent in the way that he and Iceland do business – so this discussion of how Iceland is providing for shoppers while navigating its own rising costs of energy and supplies is sure to be insightful and passionate.

“What does it mean to be a truly omnichannel retailer?”

Whatever terminology you prefer to describe trading across bricks and clicks, we all know that the movement of travel is towards doing it seamlessly – after all, consumers don’t define their shopping journeys by the platforms that they happen to be using, but by the products that they need and the experiences they have.

As tech continues to evolve, it’s always interesting to hear how leading retailers are evolving their businesses, and this particular panel is notable in that includes David Hennessy, the Group CIO of Wilko, who was appointed last October.

With threadbare shelves since Covid and a recent loan from Hilco, Wilko hasn’t had the best few years. However, with click-and-collect now live across the estate, and tentative signs of recovery with regard to instore availability, it will be fascinating to hear David’s take on his work so far, and perhaps get some clues about what its future “omnichannel transformation” might look like.

“If it’s not immersive or interactive, is it even worth your customer’s time?”

Though Retail Week Live rarely goes down the route of talking about “high streets” as such – there are plenty of other forums for that – the future and evolution of bricks-and-mortar retail more widely is always an important theme.

This year, the topic comes to the fore in a session featuring bosses from two retail brands that generally do a good job themselves of creating enjoyable customer experiences: Lisa Miao, the COO of Pets at Home Retail, andย Luke Horwath, the Head of Retail at Nespresso UK & ROI.

With discussion on how to “deliver the ultimate shopping experience” and “genuinely make customers feel valued”, this session promises plenty of good practice and inspiration to ensure that the event’s second day is just as uplifting as the first.

All speakers and topics correct at the time of publication

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