Following the news that Clarks is seeking to close some stores permanently, Patrick O’Brien, UK Retail Research Director at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers his view on this news:
“Clarks is in a typical midmarket squeeze: like M&S it is a heritage brand that has been too slow to adapt to a changing market – both in terms of product development (with the athleisure trend driving growth) and addressing the shift to online. Clarks had already brought in McKinsey to try to get it back on track, but with an excessive store estate, its core UK footwear market share plummeting and having fallen into the red, the management consultants had a huge job on their hands even before the virus hit.
“At the end of its FY2019, Clarks had 521 stores in the UK (including concessions), and while it began a portfolio review in 2017, it really should have started the process of eliminating stores much earlier, as the channel shift over the last decade has not come as a surprise. Progress has been at a snail’s pace – while it has shut some concessions it had the same number of full price stores in the UK at the end of FY2019 as it did at the end of FY2018. The truth is a lack of decisive action over the last five years has put another much loved British retailer in a weaker position than it should be to withstand the current crisis.”