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B&Q youth board helps rethink retail business model

B&Q’s youth board has criticised some parts of the way the retail industry operates, saying retailers don’t develop talented youngsters and don’t connect with younger people well on social media.

The DIY retailer is working with 15 teenagers, as well as the Ellen Macarthur Foundation, to rethink its business model and the way it operates.

The youngsters - all aged between 16 and 18 - were chosen last year in a bid to bring new ideas and new ways of thinking to the retailer.

B&Q says the project has been successful. It plans to repeat the process next year and will export the idea to its French business.

Youth board member Jamie Taylor said: “Young people struggle to find retailers offering advanced prospects, and retailers will struggle to attract the best young people as it’s viewed as a part-time Saturday job, not a career.”

He said more retailers should talk to the young people working in their stores. “It’s more than likely there’s someone already rethinking how you do business. Retailers aren’t interested in what a part-time shelf stacker has to say and that’s a bit of a shame. Is the structure of your hierarchy too tall for ideas to get through?”

Another youth board member, Mark Buckley, added retailers aren’t communicating well enough on social media and that the next generation of consumers will be adept at tuning out what they don’t want to hear.

“We have grown up with the noise of social media and we know how to tune it out. How many of you are trying to think how you interact with us, rather than trying to sell to us? I would suggest not many.”

Kingfisher chief operating officer Euan Sutherland said the youth board is genuinely helping the business.

“It’s genuinely helping us to think differently. These guys have been an inspiration to us and we will certainly do it again.” He added the process of rethinking the business model is not an easy one. “It challenges many of our long lasting thoughts around running a retail business.”

Source : Rebecca Thomson – Retail Week

15 March 2012
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