Tesco boss Ken Murphy on stage

Retail Week Live kicked off in London yesterday, with its usual mix of great speakers, inspiring insights and enjoyable conversations.

Andrew and I were tweeting throughout the day – and you can follow everyone’s updates from the event under the #RWL2023 hashtag – so here are just seven of the highlights from the first day of keynotes, panels and presentations.

1. Perhaps an underappreciated retailer in the past, there was lots of love in the room for North East institution Greggs – and, in Roisin Currie, a humble but inspiring CEO who sees herself as “custodian of the brand [that] is owned by our customers and colleagues”.

2. In a reminder of the particular challenges of convenience retail, Tracey Clements – SVP and CEO Europe, Mobility & Convenience at BP – observed that “we only have three-and-a-half minutes to impress a customer” – and that “great colleague service” is essential to keep them coming back.

3. Tesco boss Ken Murphy – not with the word “Aldi” behind him this time – covered issues including food security, net zero and the Apprenticeship Levy in a surprisingly political speech, but saved some of his strongest criticism for that old retail elephant in the room: business rates.

4. Former Waitrose MD Lord Mark Price, who now runs employee engagement platform Workl, talked about “the benefits of having a highly engaged workforce” – but neatly dodged a cheeky question (not from me) about whether the John Lewis Partnership might benefit from his technology and advice.

5. On a day where shoppers’ “savviness” amid the cost-of-living crisis was a recurring theme, CEO of online retailer Very, Lionel Desclée, shared data suggesting that his customers are “more optimistic” than might be expected.

6. Like Greggs, we learnt from CCO Sam Dickson that Asda “talks to customers constantly” – and had more than two million customer engagements last year in the form of surveys, listening groups and other methods, feeding directly into the company’s ranges and services.

7. If you’ve ever struggled to define the proposition of retailer Wilko, the company’s Group IT Director, David Hennessy, may have the answer: “jobs to be done in the here and now”. 

Follow more of our updates through the second day of Retail Week Live, and check out Andrew’s longer reads on LinkedIn about “mastering the small things”  and Greggs’ use of digital technology.

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