Mike Callender on supply chains and Brexit's impact on retail

REPL, a retail tech firm that helps companies in all areas from supply
chain to customer experience, calls two very different retail markets
homes: the US and the UK. REPL has been around for 12 years, and works with
every form of retail from fast-fashion brands to department stores and
grocery stores.

Mike Callender, the organization’s chairman, has seen key advancements over
the past several years around things like points of sale and contactless
payments, but he believes that the biggest thing retailers need to focus on
right now and at the start of this decade is supply chains. “Retailers need
to get on top of their supply chains, whether that be their own supply
chains or starting to look at shared supply chains, because there’s a lot
to do in that market,” Callender said to FashionUnited. “That will also
help things become more sustainable as well, it’s not just about the
sustainability of the clothes they are making, and they need to make sure
they are investing in that in the right way. People are going to want it
and they are going to want it tomorrow, they really want it today, but we
have to get there.”

Callender says that the number one issue in retailers shifting to a more
sustainable supply chain is cost. All of the fashion companies are trying
to find the cheapest, most cost effective way to do anything. Luxury brands
are expected to move toward a more sustainable supply chains faster because
they have a smaller inventory. Fast-fashion retailers will have a much more
difficult time moving toward sustainable supply chains because they are
selling high volumes at a cheap price.

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Aside from supply chain, one of the most impending words of doom on the
global markets lips is Brexit, however it’s not the big, bad evil some
people think it will be. “Brexit is going to affect the way the UK brings
things from Europe, but Brexit is not what’s really going to affect
retail,” Callendar said to FashionUnited. “What’s really going to affect
retail, even on a global scale, are the trade negotiations, which will
define how trade relations will be with Europe, Asia, America, etc. The UK
is going to go from having trade agreements and relationships that were
defined by the EU to no relationship, and they will need to get one in

The thing that Brexit was affecting back when the UK had a hung parliament
the uncertainty bred people refusing to spend money. Now that Brexit is
expected to go through at the end of January, the UK economy has picked up
with retailers now planning for a post-Brexit UK. The UK is expected to
negotiate trade deals by the end of this year, and then we will see how
that affects retail.

In regards to globalization, Callender believes that it is inevitable.
“People are travelling more, populations are moving around, and there’s
immigration all time through all countries, the world is becoming more
homogeneous,” Callender said to FashionUnited. “Even if the US puts heavy
tariffs on other countries and tries to do more domestically, that will
only last another five to ten years at most. There will always be arguments
about trade tariffs, but globalization is an unstoppable juggernaut that
will continue. The freedom of movement that people have will help
globalization continue, so unless you stop the freedom of movement, you
can’t stop globalization.”

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The UK’s retail sector is about to change, but the global retail sector
will continue moving, and fast. Come December, we will be looking at the
UK’s whole new approach to global retail.


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