Claire Harper

Creating a Stronger Future Together

16th Jan 2016 • CLAIRE HARPER

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Delighted to announce that I will be a guest speaker at The British Independent Retail Association (bira) High Street Conference 2016. This conference will connect you to other like-minded, forward-thinking, independent-focused individuals. It will inspire you to introduce new ideas to your business plan and understand what it takes to implement them. It will help you progress your business for the future of independent retail. 

Key reasons to attend:

Hear from 'game-changing' speakers helping to set the path for the retail industry

See how digital technology can progress the bricks and mortar experience

Discuss business ideas with inspiring cutting-edge retailers providing advice based on true experience

Work together to define what it means to thrive in the retail industry

Look forward to seeing you there!

Book now for the bira High Street Conference, Wednesday 11th May 2016. Bira will be hosting their annual High Street Conference at the Chateau Impney in Droitwich Spa, Worcester.

http://www.bira.co.uk

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Northern Power Women and 2016 Awards

14th Jan 2016 • CLAIRE HARPER

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Northern Power Women is a campaign to improve gender diversity from the North of England. It will increase opportunities for women to drive economic growth and drive positive change, working alongside businesses, universities and government. By enabling development of a strong regional pipeline of real talent, driving gender pay equality and providing women with the knowledge and skills they need to drive their careers forward against the backdrop of the Northern Powerhouse agenda. 

I feel very passionate about this area and I was delighted to be nominated recently for 'Small Business' award. The winners of the 2016 Northern Power Women Awards will be announced at a gala awards dinner on the 3 March, 2016 where it will be fantastic to see a celebration of positive role models across the whole of the north. To support my nomination I had to submit additional information in terms of gender balance in the workplace and the recruitment, development and retention of female employees.

It really made me think  -  I took the plunge to leave my former role as Marketing Director of Mamas & Papas to set up my own children’s clothing brand, IndiaCoco when I couldn’t find the type of clothes I wanted for my daughters Coco and India so I ventured into retail, initially via online from the dining room and then via pop-ups, eventually establishing my own stores in community-based locations. I also required more flexibility as a professional, working mother with a young family. The key in delivering our customer proposition is down to the strength and talent of my brilliant female team past and present. My team are all professional, working women with children who want to work in an exciting and positive environment. My team all require flexibility and family must come first so we work together as a close team and ensure this is a business that supports female talent and gender balance in the workplace.

My background is in marketing and creating talented teams is an area I am extremely passionate about. That’s only one element of running a business but it’s a very important element. Women make brilliant entrepreneurs. I think from my own experience, being a working mum, the business is inspired by my two daughters  – I’m used to juggling lots of things. I’m used to being very busy. I have to be very focused and disciplined with my time.

You have to share your brand vision and values with the team members. You’ve then got to empower and encourage them to do a fantastic job – and they will if they’re motivated, if they’re feeling empowered, if they feel recognised and valued. You’ve got to let people get on with what they’re great at. You’ve got to let go, you’ve got to delegate.

A lot of new ideas that have been brought into the business haven’t been from me, they’ve been from team members. You are only as good as your team so I have to trust them so that I can focus more strategically on growing the business and taking it to the next level.

To be nominated for such a prestigious award is a huge achievement but the biggest achievement to date is working with great female talent and offering each other flexibility and support in a positive environment.

This award nomination is dedicated to our customers and my team for making it happen!

www.northernpowerwomen.co.uk

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What's New For Retail in 2016

7th Jan 2016 • CLAIRE HARPER

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Retail has always been a volatile industry with an ongoing fight for customer sales and increased market share. This is an industry used to dealing with constant change. However, the change we are seeing today is far more profound than anything the past has thrown up. We have only just started a new year and already we have heard about two big announcements from M&S and Sainsburys. This morning's news that the CEO Marc Bolland is stepping down and will be replaced by an M&S veteran, Steve Rowe. Steve has no CEO experience but has vast experience of the business and is a good old fashioned retailer. I'm sure he will not be under any illusion with the difficult retail challenges the company face and I'm sure he will do a great job getting back to basics.

Earlier this week I was initially surprised to read about Sainsburys bid for The Home Retail Group. Having worked for both Argos and Sainsburys I can understand why Sainsburys have made such a bold and strategic move. Sainsburys have been looking at expanding non food and digital platforms for many years but I'm not sure Argos is the right solution due to the customer profile and brand values. I'm waiting to see how this development unfolds.  I'm sure this is just the start of retail surprises for 2016.

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year and Trade Well!

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