The Future of the High Street with Retail Expert Eddie McAtominey

The future of the high street

Eddie McAtominey and I discuss the future of the high street. More relevant now than when we recorded it, especially since Covid.

Eddie is an old client of mine from when I first started working for myself! I get his last name wrong as usual and we have a good giggle about it at the beginning.

Eddie is experienced in retail design, environments, entrepreneurship and as a creative director in his own right, when I first worked in marketing I learnt huge amounts from him and his team.

He started off in retail design, with a company called Fitch which is now part of WPP, Eddie designed Ed’s easy diner, but he has also designed a lot of bars, running his own businesses, his skillset was environments.

As he developed his business he employed lots of different types of designers, architects and his responsibility over the years was to deliver all the creative, from shop design all the way through to designing the promotional material and in fact psychology of shopping and where you place items on the shelves etc.

Quite a bit of science has been involved, knowledge around all areas to make sure the projects were delivered.
Eddie has done a lot of identities and recently he has done a lot of network rail identities including the Leak street arches, the graffiti arches under Waterloo.

Thinking slightly differently was important and thinking through what an identity was all about and how to engage the identity with other businesses to include them and their customers in the identity and add value there.
Basing the identity on the strapline “leave your mark”

Eddie and I spoke today about the high street and the future of it and the changes in taste, people are not shopping in the same way as they did before.

We have seen lots of retailers going under, the most recent one was Evans and sons, we agreed that cycling and the opportunities lie in mobile puncture repair and in fact the way the changes didn’t work fast enough.
Evans was saved by the sports direct owner and he will retain a large number of the stores, the economy we have and the austerity and the parking and income needed by the government.

The businesses have agreed on leases that are over 25 years and that people are not shopping in the same way, so they just go to touch and feel a product before buying them online.

Online retail, for example Asos have a fabulous reputation and they are state of the art and you have Topshop competing with them and the huge rent charges and the rates are causing many problems.

Expansion of retail has created this problem, hedge funds buying into retail stores and into restaurants and they expand beyond the market capacity and then there is a domino effect as the market drops off and then we have gaps on the high street.

Creating communities are what the high street is all about and how social media is partly to blame, things like having a reason to go out and socialise are fundamental to keeping the society going.

Where Eddie lives Muswell Hill was voted one of the most healthy high streets in London.

The least healthy high streets were clearly not healthy.
Generally the fast food outlets go to the poorer areas, but this doesn’t matter it is a question of moving things forward to help people to be part of a community.

Landlords need to look at things differently and be more flexible with the rent and perhaps have 10 year discounted rent perhaps for an example.
Building communities is a crucial part of the success of retail and the future of the high street and in fact helping to combat the loneliness that young people feel.

Eddie visits a lot of co-working spaces around London and we discussed these spaces should enable networking that leads to revenue generation, some of these hot desks do assist people to make money no doubt, but in many cases we fail to see the point of them if people just sit there and look at their laptops…

We also discussed the ridiculous use of social media and how the future of the high street is not about social media usage but in fact about the human element of our species! Connecting!

Eddie explains about the future of the customer touch-points and how Deliveroo and Amazon are producing non branded equivalent products.
Brands want to be people, they develop an identity, build personality and become a brand; some forms of brand strategies align with characters and these character sets to do brand definition…

People as brands are more what we need to get back to and people need a reason to go out and talk to people, these points of commonality need to be looked at.

Wouldn’t it be great in the real world if we had local influential people in the local community who knew the local community and could organise events.
We could be using the high streets to really engage people, and local communities that are created to enable people to move away from loneliness…

Getting out there and talking to people is absolutely crucial in this world!
Eddie and I discussed the throwaway society and the fundamental problem with the UK high street and the valuations of the market and the problems with the pricing of retail space in the high street.

The essence is having a much more social, community focused high streets. The Future of the High Street Inside Story will evolve over the years but this video and audio contain some super exciting information, so please listen and comment below or message me.

We both share lots of useful guidance for anyone in retail who is looking to make their mark!

I hope you enjoyed this podcast episode, please share 😉
And if you want to get Eddie here is his LinkedIn
Originally posted on my website visit The Future of the High Street