Exclusive by Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY: Prompted by recent stories on Current.com.au regarding price erosion and retail strategy, Chris de Florac, the director of marketing at Black & Stone, has given his views on the current retail landscape in Australia. He believes that whilst some retailers have been excellent, others are not prepared to adapt to changing market conditions.

“I think there are some retailers; their model’s not working and they’re not prepared to change, and it’s a changing market,” said de Florac.

“They’ve had a lot of problems over the last 12 months with the business, but I often hear complaints from them, that the market’s really competitive the big guys like the Harvey Normans are making it really hard, but I think they’ve got to look at their own model.”

Since launching in Australia last year, Black & Stone has become a local success story, and is currently embarking on ambitious plans to supply the US market. Although critical of this unnamed retailer, de Florac does not mean for his comments to be a spray or a put-down – he just wants to highlight an aspect of retail theory often overlooked.

“If you’re running a business and your model isn’t working and if customers are walking in the door and walking out, because either you’re not prepared to negotiate or you don’t have the knowledge, then you’ve got to stand back and have a serious look,” he said.

“They’re complaining about something and their model’s not working:  change the model. Take a serious look at your business. No business has ever got a gun pointed at its head saying it can’t improve.”

Meanwhile, de Florac also passed comment on the debate over the effectiveness of staff training. He sides squarely with the pro-training camp.

“I do believe training makes a difference. If a retailer wants to advertise some loss leader products for foot traffic, which I think is a good strategy, it’s no good then sitting back and complaining when people either walk out the door because they can’t get the information that they want, or they don’t buy more expensive or upmarket products.”