Snow scenes LONDON January 2013

Kyoto Garden

Kyoto Garden


Campden Hill Road

Photo of natural colour no filter used

Photo of natural colour no filter used

Holland House

Holland House

Ice house Holland Park LONDON January 2013
Ice house at Holland Park

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Only 346 days left until Christmas Mr Selfridge – Selling silence and holding on to customers longer

Selfridges , Oxford Street, London on a snow Sunday 20th Jan 2013

Selfridges , Oxford Street, London on a snow Sunday 20th Jan 2013

With the UK high street taking such a battering at the moment from  competition from the internet  perhaps it needs to revisit its roots.

Back in the day before he opened his store in London at the age of 50 Harry Selfridge was already doing ground breaking things in retail which we recognise today.

At  Marshall Field in Chicago, he was the first to promote Christmas sales with the phrase “Only _____ Shopping Days Until Christmas”, a catchphrase that quickly was picked up by retailers in other markets.

Either he or Marshall Field is also credited with originating the phrase “The customer is always right.”

In the early days in his career according to  Lindy Woodhead author of “Shopping Seduction and Mr Selfridge”,  the wholesale side of the business was much the bigger and more profitable side of the business.

Prices at the store were intended to cover all costs and  they included an additional 6% paid to the wholesale division – from whom the retail division sourced its own goods.

As with all nineteenth century ‘great store’ successes, it was the wholesale department that laid the foundation of the Field fortune, supplying people in small townships all over the Mid-west of the United States with whatever the needed , from dress fabric to carpets, petticoats to parasols. ( Perhaps a parallel to Amazon’s model in some ways?!)

Nothing excited  Harry Selfridge more than the idea of ‘shaking up London’ and the spirit of the age was on his side. The concept of “selling to all classes of trade” was totally alien to existing retailers in the UK.

Well it is British High street being shaken up 100 years on by the competition from on-line shopping. Retail has to rethink its proposition and perhaps reinvent its initiatives back to its Selfridgean roots.


How many brands can omit the words and yet we know them ?

Bring back the fun and show business and the experience of shopping

To become theatres whose curtain is raised at 9 O’clock every morning.

Theatres have intervals. People need breaks.

DSCF3732This month Selfridges in London introduced its quiet room. A place where shoppers and visitors can chill out and relax. With rise of the mindfulness industry it seems very of the moment yet back in 1910 Selfridge had a quiet room.

Chill out mindfully in Selfridges Quiet room in the lower ground floor

Chill out mindfully in Selfridges Quiet room in the lower ground floor

The idea was to keep the gentlemen in the store and allow more time for the ladies to do their shopping.  He introduced the restaurant to hold onto the customers and keep them in the store. He also had a barbers for the same reason.

Perhaps this is the sort of  edge or difference that Shops need to get back to in UK.

Is Selfridge leading the way again?

Holding onto customers is of course a challenge for both on-line and off-line shopping.

According to Forrester Research by 2016 e will represent 9% of all retail. Retail spending will have increase 62%. 1 in 4 Americans only use mobiles to surf the net. 60% of users expect the site to load in 3 seconds pretty much equivalent o PCs and Macs.74% will leave a website if it does not load in 5 seconds.

Time is money  both on-line as well as off-line
Related links :
Legacy of Harry Gordon Selfridge
Selling Revolutions in Retail 1909 1921 2013

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Selling Revolutions HMV’s Nipper and Mile a minute Harry 1909 1921 2013

Blockbuster, HMV? Jessops, Comet, JJB, Clinton Cards, Game Peacocks

So who is to blame for the downfall in the UK high street ?

Frankly it’s all of us. You and me.

Consumers are all powerful.

Our tastes alter added to which technology is ever the game changer.

So far as the stores mentioned above fewer of us have chosen to shop in them.

I guess the current revolution in retail can be easily illustrated by two heritage stores in one of the most famous shopping streets in the world, Oxford Street.


Both stores are long residents of the street. HMV opened in 1921. The iconic brand with the terrier  Nipper with ear cocked to the gramophone speaker of ‘his master’s voice’. At one time the store boasted to be the largest record shop in the world.

Even in last year’s YouGov Brand Index poll the stability of the brand score was respectable enough at +13  despite two step declines on the index in the two previous years.

However indirect competition in the form of Amazon score  +48 and Apple +26.

YouGov’s index is a composite score of eight attributes. ( link at end of post )for more details

1.       Buzz (whether people have heard anything positive or negative about the brand in the media or through word of mouth)

2.       Attention (the percentage of the general public that has heard anything, positive or negative, about the brand in the media through word of mouth)

3.       Quality

4.       Value

5.       Customer Satisfaction

6.       Corporate Reputation

7.       General Impression

8.       Recommendation

Closer examination tells the real story though. In the area of value HMV score +6 compared to amazon at +51 . Stephan Shakespeare of YouGov put it

“ If you are in the business of selling CDs or any commoditised product you can’t trail 45 points and thrive.”

So has the internet destroyed heritage brands ?

Not entirely.

Many stores have chosen to develop their own on line presence which the pundits explains the retailers who did best this past Christmas season.

Shops themselves are changing.

The American, Apple store led the way in Regent street with its Polo shirted uniformed staff and the lack of tills. The money bit is done via a handheld machine.

The store consists of Zones such as personal training, group training, mini lecture theatre, bookstore, genius zone, kids zone etc. Basically just a set of table with products on to touch and play with and have fun with and staff nearby to help ( ad sell).

The lesson has been learnt ( or possibly re- learnt if you believe in the value of history) by bigger stores.  Just a few yards from HMV in Oxford street to the west is Selfridges.

In Jelly Beans

Founder and top salesman Harry Selfridge in Jelly Beans

It’s founder the American, Harry Selfridge who opened his London Store on 15/3/09 and was a game changer in retail in his day.

ITV ( see link at end of post) are currently running a TV series  “Mr Selfridge.” It is based on the book by Lindy Wood “ Shopping, Seduction and Mr Selfridge” ISBN 978-1781 250 587 ( originally published 2007)

It is a fascinating read and a great insight into the foundations of retail and fashion and the high street.

The book also challenges the view Marketing orientation as opposed to production orientation came into being after the second world war. But maybe ‘Mile a minute Harry’ was ahead of the game.

Not only did Harry Selfridge leave us concepts like allowing customers to touch and feel the stock, using creative window displays to draw customers into the store

He also took responsibility for leading and instilling a motivated culture of his staff.

Selfridges Blues

Selfridges attractive web page to cheer those of us who have the winter blues


Here are just some of his sayings from times at Marshall Field in Chicago and later his iconic store in Oxford Street. He regularly communicated such quotes with his staff. These saying still resonate with we in Selling in 2013.

“ Remember always that the recollection of quality remains long after the price is forgotten”

Objectives regularly communicated to staff included examples like:-

  • “To do the right thing, at the right time, in the right way”
  • “To do some things better than we’ve done before”
  • “To know both sides of the question”
  • “To be courteous, to be a good example to anticipate requirements”
  • “To be satisfied with nothing shorter than perfection”

These philosophies still reverberate today with our modern business and its challenges of ethics, continual improvement, intelligence, and challenges in both management and leadership culture.

Today there is considerable disconnect in many businesses between the board and employees. For example less and less field sales managers seldom go out in the field with their team members.

Fewer in ofices get up from their desk and have a real rather than virtual conversation with staff.

Yet Selfridge was managing by walking about long before Hewlett Packard  or Guru Tom Peters advocated MBWA. He took 1 ½ hour tour of the Oxford street store every morning.

He would not ask how staff were but rather treat them a retailers –   “ Tell me..” he would begin “how is this selling ? or  “has this gone well?”

He knew exactly how it had been going for the previous sales reports were on his desk first thing every morning but he wanted to hear it from them. The result was a buzz about the store and a motivated staff.

For the puritanical, Selfridge did get his comeuppance as they would have seen it and died in poverty but the fact is his name lives on in both British High Street in Manchester, Birmingham and London in the  Miss Selfridge shops and On line presence.

But perhaps his greatest legacy is to remind us  all of the most important and toughest lesson in retail and in Selling of all kinds.

“The Customer is always right”


Related Links

Amazon link for ‘Shopping Seduction and Mr. Selfridge” by Lindy Wood and all good bookshops!


YouGov brand index

Apple Store at Regent Street

ITC iplayer

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Street food , Street Performers, Street Art and Street Selling


Most sculpture displayed outdoors is the finished work. You might see the sculptors at the unveiling, receiving some award or other and perhaps an occasional documentary on the artist at work -but mostly it is the finished work that must speak or itself.

Regrettably outdoor sculpture can be vandalises. A sundial by Henry Moore valued at £500,000 was stolen from the Henry Moore foundation Gardens to melted down and sold for scrap for £ 46 and its plinth for £136.60  last July.

If outdoor art is not vandalised it can be at the centre of a hoo-ha like the work owned by  Tower Hamlets council by the sculptor Henry More ‘ Draped seated woman’  which could fetch some £20 million and help to pay for £100 million savings for the next two years the council have to make.


Pay a visit to London’s own windy city – Canary Wharf – and the financial firms often have a piece of sculpture in their reception foyer. There are also sculpture pieces set at the entrances to the companies and pieces in the public places and squares of Canary Wharf.

This weekend there is special treat in Docklands for sculpture lovers and it’s FREE. Beckoned by the sound of buzzing electric chain saws, chiselling and polishing of the sculptures craft in the special medium of ICE is the fourth London Ice Sculpting Festival .


The London Ice Sculpting festival is combination of performance art and show business competition.

Where’s the selling bit ?


This blog post has to have something to do with selling. Visitors to the Festival have to be fed and watered.

Mobile event catering and the growth in street food has spurned two businesses that caught my eye. Two former students of St Andrews University offer yummy melted cheese Raclette to the festival visitors to ward off the cold .


Lenny of Savoie Fayre with raclette in background

I also enjoyed a great cup of coffee from , a new business venture out of Shoreditch.


Gold luck to both these young businesses selling al fresco and striving to success in this cold snap in January 2013.

Back to the Ice sculpting

The results of the sculptors’ work have the appearance of gigantic Swarovski glass crystals from the famous Innsbruck based firm.

I have put two you tube clips on the sculpting in progress here ( click on links)

DSCF3686  DSCF3705


The finished works are beautiful and of course temporary which in a way contributes to their value to beware and live for the moment. In that sense they are like a market in that they are dynamic temporary and live out a cycle of creation growth maturity and decline there is an opening and a closing.

Looking at sculptures most of us have wondered how does the artist take a block of material and transform it into art. Well with Ice Sculpting  you see it created before your eyes.


There is even a huge block wall of ice to have a go at leaving you own mark.


The sculptors this year have themes of The Wonders of the Universe and Infinity. There are competitions for Doubles, Singles and freestyle.

So to accompany the street performers on Wood Wharf is a winter market

Perhaps if Henry Moore had sculpted in ice he could have seen off  scrap metal robbers or council officials with a chainsaw!  🙂

Related Links

see also my blogger site

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Tom Cruise has One shot to get Reacher right. The challenges of Selling film character

DSCF3438“His thought processes, his quirks, his intuitions are what make him interesting,” … “How do you get that out of his head and onto the screen?”


Lee Childs on the challenges of  putting  his character Jack Reacher on film

Lee Child’s character Jack Reacher has appeared in 18 best selling books.

For the first time one of the novels “ One shot” is launched as world film premiere tonight with film star Tom Cruise at Leicester Square .

Purists no doubt will say how different the film hero is to their picture from the novels. They did for James Bond, they do it for Lord of the rings and no doubt will do so with the Hobbit.

Yet perhaps Reacher is a ‘hero for our time’ as he seems to have a very driven sense of right and wrong.

Since ethics and morality are much in the business news at present with Bank rogue traders, Corporate Tax avoiding multinational corporations , maybe Reacher would be closer to Occupy or UK Uncut and their ethical agendas.

Putting aside Reacher’s  shooting ,fighting and killing skills which are not suitable in most sales encounters  (however playfully tempting that might be ),what does the character tell us?

Supposing Reacher was our prospect how might we sell to him?

Reacher is stoic, and he does not talk much.

He has a predisposition for saying “that’s for damn sure”.

He often does not answer when people make statements or ask questions, nodding or shrugging, preferring the other party to fill the silence. Remind you of any Buyers you know?

A recurring line in the novels is “Reacher said nothing”.


Loved the way they numbered the letters on the back. As a spelling czar Reacher would appreciate that. Part of the preparation for the World premiere of Reacher at London’s Leicester Square

He is cool-headed and rarely emotional for example he seldom becomes visibly angry.

Reacher has an instinct to know what time it is, at any time of the day, without referring to a clock. He often uses his internal clock as an alarm, enabling him to wake up at any time he chooses.

It is revealed throughout most of the books in the series and in particular that  Reacher has a fascination with mathematics.

Reacher is always aware of his surroundings; he always sits with his back to the wall, so that he can see those entering a room so he cannot be attacked from behind.

He has an antipathy towards what he sees as the corruption of traditional spelling, such as the use of “U” for “you”, and “lo” for “low”.

If you had to sell to  a Reacher how would you adapt your selling style to his personality?

If you are looking for ideas to adapt your selling style to the Reachers of this world take a look at

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Hello world!

Welcome to

This is my first post on WordPress. On my blog http://fruitsofsuccesswithhugh.blogsot  I noticed many of my followers used WordPress so I thought I would try it out and see how it compares.

I am currently preparing a series of posts before I get the site up and running

Good Selling


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