Annabel Plowman heads up the Retail and FMCG team here at Cast UK and has worked in recruitment for over 3 years now but prior to this she worked in the Retail sector.

We sat down for a chat with Annabel to get her advice on how Retail and FMCG businesses can successfully plan for peak periods and be preparing for Black Friday.

So, peak is up on us! What does ‘peak’ mean for Retail and FMCG business in the UK?

The introduction of Black Friday to UK retailing in 2014 was pivotal to how retailers now plan for peak. It now officially kicks off the Christmas shopping season.

However, the UK market is still adjusting, as often Black Friday has a knock-on effect on the rest of the season making for weak sales growth in December.

The consumer is now in control, shoppers rarely buy certain products full price – they wait until the product is on offer or discounted.

What’s the best advice you can give to retailers?

The best advice I have for retailers is to ask the question ‘are you in, or are you out?’, decide on this and then get your strategy right.

Meticulous planning and careful execution rather than snap, last minute decisions, are key. Always ensure that stock is bought correctly. If not, retailers can be left with reduced margins throughout Christmas and less stock for the traditional post-Christmas sales.

Prepare for promotions

Those who take on Black Friday need make Buying, Merchandising and Supply Chain decisions promptly.

Buy specifically for promotions and build discounts into target margins. A great strategy is limited lines and targeted reductions rather than dramatically discounting all products. This way retailers will benefit from increased volume on Black Friday without disproportionately damaging their margins throughout Christmas trade.

Excellence in Supply Chain is also key

Focus must be on working with suppliers around promotion and also fulfilling any orders. Mess this up and you could potentially mess up Christmas altogether. Even if retailers are offering the best products at the lowest prices, if they are not able to deliver this could be extremely damaging to a company’s reputation.

Testing supply and delivery channels throughout the year is a good way to ensure operations are fully functional and able to deal with the fluctuations in traffic and demand.

How can Cast UK help clients around these busy periods?

As market specialist, we can advise on:

  • How many people you need to recruit.
  • What the market has to offer for the budget that the client is working with.
  • We can help with unexpected absences or resignations.
  • We can offer interim, permanent or contract solutions.
  • We can act as an insurance policy to enable everything runs smoothly.

What are the benefits of hiring interim professionals during peak?

  • Interim professionals provide a great talent pool for find new employees.
  • An opportunity to develop future leaders within the business
  • They will provide an opportunity to simplify process; new people always bring new ideas. Interim’s may bring new, easier ways to carry out tasks which could save a lot of time and money.

And to conclude?

Those with supply chain excellence and a genuine understanding of the art of promotion, will succeed. For a seamless peak, plan ahead and hire the right people.


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