Cars in shopping centres.
Car companies have been rethinking how they go about selling.
Dealership networks are increasingly expensive to operate, located far from where customers live or want to visit and have struggled to shed the infamous sleazy sales style.
One new company, Rockar, has tried to change all of that by introducing a new format for shopping centres.
Rockar is five years old and its main client is Hyundai. It opened a small site in the Bluewater shopping centre. That shop had higher footfall than all of the 150 other Hyundai showrooms put together, and was apparently by far the best performing in sales.
It opened another in Westfield.
It also runs one for Jaguar Land Rover in Westfield Stratford, which is reckoned to sell around three cars a day.
Rockar’s promise is it has friendly, product-driven staff who don’t work on commission, as opposed to the traditional sales-hungry types who prowl showrooms.
Last month, Volkswagen opened a similar concept store in Birmingham’s Bullring centre. The electric car company Tesla has based much of its sales strategy around shops in high footfall shopping centres.
From duffle coats to Priuses.
This anecdote captures how some parts of the economy are changing.
Tipu Ahmed was working in a family business making duffle coats for famous brands like Burberry and Baracuta.
Business has been tough for the east London factory over the last few years, but the bigger challenge has been keeping hold of staff. Many have been ditching the fixed hours stuck indoors working on sewing machines and have instead been signing up to become Uber drivers.
Over the last year, Ahmed quit the family business. He now runs a company leasing Toyota Priuses to Uber drivers.
Consultants hunt creatives.
Things are getting messy in the obscure world of management consultancies and advertising agencies.
Where once each side had its own turf, consultancy giants like Accenture and McKinsey have been slowly and quietly spending on growing divisions that compete directly with the advertising agencies.
There are a few factors at play here.
A common scenario often faced by a growing company is finding itself split between two categories, or even two strategies.
Wool and the Gang had a dilemma, leading it to stop making clothes altogether.
It has instead focussed on selling ‘knit kits’ containing patterns, wool, needles and other accessories for people to knit their own clothes.
After realising the DIY kits were selling better than ready-made products, co-founder Jade Harwood says the sole focus is now on being a fully DIY brand – ready-made knits are now only made for collaborations. Today, Wool and the Gang’s wholesale distribution is split between haberdasheries (65%), fashion stores (25%), and gifting shops (10%).
A raft of cookbooks peddling pared back or scientific approaches to food and cooking have launched in recent years.
Anna Jones’ A Modern Way to Eat (vegetarian), The Food Lab (science heavy), by chef and blogger J Kenji Lopez-Alt, and Simple (few ingredients, maximum flavour) by food writer Diana Henry are all different takes on supposedly foolproof methods of cooking.
More recently, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat has been published. The book explores how various ingredients interact with each other. On Wednesday the author hosted a book signing at Leila’s Shop in Shoreditch.
This article on the Atlantic provides a good review of the book, and recommends others titles that teach how to cook, rather than reprinting recipes.