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Finding new business opportunities

Marvin Lazaro -- Home Textiles Today, January 21, 2002

Three chief executives from various retail backgrounds and with three very different operations offered their thoughts on the retail landscape during last week's NRF session, "Who's Minding the Future?"

Bill Podany, Lisa Harper and Leonard Riggio, from ShopKo, Gymboree, and Barnes and Noble, respectively, each had their own take on what retailers need to focus on as the retail landscape becomes increasingly more difficult and challenging.

"Only those retailers searching for new and better ways to satisfy the customer will survive in an increasingly complex retail world," Podany said, adding that the answers to the problems they all face may not be found in the executive office but perhaps will come from consumers themselves.

Harper stressed the two lessons that Gymboree is focusing on: revere the customer, and protect the essence of the company and the brand. Retailers, she said, "need to break the mold by paying as much attention to their customers as we do to profit," and they also need to understand what their company stands for and stick to it at all costs.

Riggio felt that those retailers who had yet to join the world of e-commerce had better do so or lose a tremendous opportunity. According to Riggio, the world's of retail and e-commerce were "converging at a rapid pace" and provided consumers with a world where the store is open 24/7 as well as retailers with a constant advertising outlet.

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