Is the writing on the wall for the retail sector?

With the demise of large retail stores such as BHS and Austin Reed, many people, experts and individuals alike, are wondering whether the retail sector will ever recover. To answer this question, it’s important to look at the reasons as to why BHS and Austin Reed did manage to go into administration and what this means for other stores as well, but then look at the way that they handle their marketing, management and even what they sell in order to determine the fate for other retailers. 

BHS has been around since 1928, but it’s demise has been in the making for quite some time, so it’s not as sudden as some may think it is. In The late 90s, BHS was growing rapidly, opening stores in Asia, the Middle East and expanding at an exponential rate. Going along with this newfound uptake in success, they rebranded in 2000, but that didn’t last long as by 2005 they brought back the old branding and were consistently losing business to chains such as Primark.

The problem BHS was facing was that there were more recent retail chains opening up and growing, offering some of the same products for cheaper. BHS was not seen as being as glitzy as stores such as Primark, and also was struggling due to the public perception—people wanted fancier, higher-end items at cheaper prices.

Collapsing the very next day after BHS, Austin Reed was just another in the succession of failing retailers. Much like BHS, Austin Reed was struggling with competition against glitzier stores that were more appealing to the public and they were struggling with the branding. Many of the store branches were in poor locations for both Austin Reed and BHS, and overall they both became quite outdated and therefore, were uninteresting to the public.

Is it all doom and gloom for the retail sector?

We can look at the collapse of these retailers and speculate that the entire retail sector is in trouble, however, that is not necessarily the case. The retail landscape is changing, but not necessarily for the worse. Nowadays, marketing and appearance is more crucial than ever. With technology, the Internet and social media, consumer tastes have changed and as a brand, if you’re not present on all of those channels people will forget about you and you will begin to lose business and interest.

Yes, the retail landscape has changed, and yes huge chains that used to run the retail sector have failed, but that doesn’t mean there’s no hope. Brands need to reevaluate their marketing strategy and make sure they’re modern, present and appealing to a younger outlook on life. It’s sad to say goodbye to some of these stores, but it’s simply capitalism at work.

If you are considering insolvency then Kingsland Business Recovery can help you weigh up the options that are available. To discuss further please feel free to contact one of our directors on 0800 955 3595 for a no obligation, confidential chat. Or alternatively, drop us an email at


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