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Things ain't what they used to be, David Smith, Economics Editor, The Sunday Times

April 2017 |


Lord Wolfson, the chief executive of Next, had an interesting observation recently when downplaying expectations for his stores group in the coming year. Prospects were not as good as they might be, he said, because customers were switching from buying “stuff” to other forms of expenditure. Many, and particularly Millennials, preferred to spend on eating and drinking out, and con experiences.

He cited figures from Barclaycard, showing double-figure rises in expenditure on restaurants and pubs at the end of last year, with entertainment such as cinema visits not far behind. During the same period, official figures showed spending on clothing flat. “We believe that these numbers demonstrate the continuing trend towards spending on experiences and away from ‘things’,” he said in a statement to shareholders.

 That pattern, I should say, has continued this year, with retail sales relatively weak and suffering their worst three monthly period since 2010 but spending on eating out, pubs, hotels and entertainment continuing strong.

Though the Next chief executive added that he did not expect this shift to permanent, he raised a point that has intrigued observers of spending patterns for years. When do we become satiated, with our appetite for things satisfied, and how close are we to that point? It is worth noting that whenever in the past experts have declared that satiation is near, another burst of buying things has usually followed. The fashion for cheap, throwaway clothing came after just one of these warnings.

Something is, however, happening, and it is not particularly recent. The Office for National Statistics monitors household spending by conducting detailed annual surveys. Its latest assessment, Family Spending 2016, breaks down household spending into 11 categories. “Recreation and culture”, one of those categories, has steadily climbed up the rankings. It now stands in third place, behind only transport and housing, a category which includes fuel and power.

So yes, we spend more on recreation and culture than on food, and about three times as much as we spend on clothing and footwear. And recreation and culture does not include another “experience” category, restaurants and hotels, which is in fifth place, just behind food consumed in the home.

US Learning, Development & Talent Executive Forum

April 2017 |


The Richmond Learning, Development & Talent Executive Forum opens today at the Harvard Club in New York.

Delegates represent organizations with average sales of $ 8.5 billion and 20,500 US employees.  Average number of employees in their L&D department is 84. Average budget for new projects/vendors is almost $ 1 million.

What will they spend this money on?

Most relevant to the largest number of delegates are:

High potential development
Leadership & management skills
Skills assessments
Evaluation & measurements
Analytics & dashboards
Experiential learning

For more details of what LDT professionals are thinking, for details of the 2018 Richmond events, or for a report on the 2017 event, please contact Andy Lindley

Richmond Retail & eCommerce Directors' Forum 2017

April 2017 |

What are they talking about?
The 2017 Richmond Retail & eCommerce Directors' Forum on 25th April 2017 at the Ryder Cup venue, the Belfry, is sold out.
Delegates represent organisations with average sales of  £461m and almost 11,000 employees. This year more of them use eCommerce routes to market compared with those who use traditional stores.
The areas where most want to review suppliers are:
Conversion optimisation
Customer loyalty
Click & collect optimisation
Data analytics tools
Increasing store footfall
Marketing effectiveness & optimisation
For more information about delegates attending or details of the 2018 event please contact Emma Doniger.

Brexit - from an event organiser's perspective - business as usual

April 2017 |


There is no doubt that Brexit is generating a lot of discussion and media coverage, which has gone into overdrive with this week’s announcement by Theresa May of a snap general election.

There is also no doubt that the decision to leave the EU has left a serious division between the leave and remain camps.

But what does it mean to Richmond Events, as an event organiser, and what does it mean to our customers?

Clearly there is uncertainty which is not good for business, and there have been exchange rate changes which look set to continue. Apart from that things have continued pretty much as they were – it’s business as usual.

Richmond operates in four countries. Switzerland and USA outside the EU, Italy in the EU and UK currently in, but soon to be outside the EU.  Our events are broadly all a little better year on year with no discernable difference between those in the EU and those outside.

In focus groups held for our participating delegates the picture is similar. Many have concerns about the uncertainty that will prevail until negotiations are concluded, but believe it is largely business as usual.

Ferraris Test Drive

April 2017 |

As the Richmond Financial Industry Forum celebrates its 10th year at the Victoria Jungfrau Hotel 18-20 May 2017, delegates will have the opportunity to test drive Ferraris as part of their pre-arranged schedule of meetings.

Richmond Events are mostly about business, but they’re good fun as well!

This year’s event is sold out but for information about 2018, please contact Helge Hansen

A brave new world, Nick Turner

April 2017 |
Big Brother 2009 Italy
An alarming or encouraging change, depending on your point of view, has infiltrated and percolated through the legislature in dribs and drabs over the last 15 years or so. Although  I refer to the UK, there are parallels with this throughout European and North American legislative changes.

This is about our fundamental human rights vs the right of the State to actively interfere with those rights, in the most insidious and possibly disturbing way.

I am no conspiracy theorist, merely a slightly concerned lawyer who is wondering where our freedoms and rights as individuals stand in the 21st Century.

I won’t engage in lengthy political or philosophical diatribes but simply illustrate by example something that I have noticed is impinging on more and more individuals’ lives.

For some years we had the Criminal Records Bureau in the UK, which actively regulated and controlled the disclosure of criminal convictions in many sensitive employment issues.

All criminal sentences carry some tariff whereby an offender could be “Rehabilitated” after a specified period of time. Once the rehabilitation period had passed, then an individual would be free to declare to a potential employer that they had no previous convictions. Such verification would be carried out through the auspices of the CRB.

This system worked well enough until it was realised that certain jobs involved working with the vulnerable. This encompassed children, the aged, care home patients, hospital patients, the disabled, and those suffering from mental health issues. Those worries were also further extended to public service, medical, police, security, and legal appointments.

It was decided that the principles of rehabilitation extended by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 needed to be curbed for certain designated types of employment.

To be fair this change was in part brought about by the shocking Soham murders, whereby 2 young infant girls were murdered at the hands of the school caretaker of the girls’ own primary school. After the disgust of these awful murders had turned into a public enquiry, particularly in relation to the murderer’s past (but spent) criminal record, it was felt that the whole system of rehabilitation needed redefining.

And so certain employment areas could enquire as to the background of potential employees without rehabilitation by statute taking effect.

However, like all things, and all governments, there is the need to continually refine and modify systems in place.

Today the Criminal Records Bureau, which became the Criminal Records Office is now the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS for short) and their powers have grown beyond the simple disclosure of convictions. Their disclosure powers have extended to disclosure of cautions, reprimands, warnings and even “suspicion” as matters suitable for disclosure to employers in the sensitive areas described above.

Many will welcome this “belt and braces” approach to the scrutiny of employees in sensitive areas of the work place;  however this Big Brother approach has led to a growing number of outrageous decisions and this is best illustrated by these following actual cases.

Case 1; A happily married family man from Guildford working as a Senior Sales executive for a successful engineering company, based in Surrey, had occasion to visit a large retail customer in South Wales on a regular basis, usually once per month. He would travel early in the morning, meet with the customer at 10 am, and complete his visit just before lunch. A creature of habit he would bring a packed lunch, but naturally, preferred a quieter spot away from the main highway, to enjoy his break before the long trek back to Surrey.
Sure enough, a suitable quiet layby revealed itself and our man would eat his lunch.

On his next monthly visit, remembering his lunch spot, he parked in the same place, and the same applied for his third visit except that during this third visit a tapping noise on his window caused him to break from his sandwich. A police officer first took his details and advised the man that attention had been drawn to his vehicle because it had been noted as parking at that specific location previously (presumably via the cctv urban system, or ANPR---Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras) and of course the police had been alerted because the parking spot overlooked a childrens’ primary school.

The man was slightly perturbed but said nothing, but in fact he had not even noticed the school, let alone known that parking there may represent a concern for the authorities.

He thought no more about this incident.

Some months later his daughter’s primary school Headmaster put out a call for parents to volunteer to accompany a forthcoming weekend camping trip to make up sufficient adult: child ratios to satisfy the Health and Safety standards set by the Department of Education. Our man volunteered but was notified by the Headmaster that a DBS check would have to be carried out.

A few weeks passed and the man was called to the Headmaster. His DBS had been returned stating that he was “spoken to” by the Police in South Wales regarding suspicious behaviour related to paedophile activity in and around areas where young vulnerable people congregated.

This was an authoritative, persuasive document produced by a government agency and held on record by the police and any interested government department, and completely unknown to that man until revealed by the arbitrary search carried out for the school trip.


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