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Going through the life cycle

All retail strategies eventually fail, but those which succeed long-term are from companies with management that guides them from one life cycle to another.

"Longevity is tied to management's ability to guide companies from one phase of the life cycle to the next," Ed Spangler, global retail practice director, Deloitte & Touche, said at last week's NRF "Reinventing Retail" conference.

Spangler also pointed to a number of critical retail changes, from supply change innovation; service aggregation, as seen in retailers such as Expo Design Centers; to engineered environment in stores; and the short attention spans of consumers.

From the panelists, including the chief executives of Ethan Allen, Petsmart, Global Sports and Sephora, ideas for reinvention included an overhaul of the product mix, store design and sales staff at Ethan Allen, to a four-pronged strategy at Sephora that encourages "play" and offers an incubator for new brands in a non-promotional environments.

From a different perspective, Global Sports began as an e-commerce entity and moved to become the e-commerce infrastructure umbrella for some 30 retail brands in sporting goods, general merchandise, jewelry and luxury goods.

At Ethan Allen, said chairman and ceo Farooq Kathwari, "We have again started the reinvention of every element of our business."

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