Gifts Today magazine

Latest BHETA forum success

A new golden age in retail predicted at the most recent Meet the Buyer day hosted by BHETA

Steve Lightfoot, trading director for Home at Debenhams was the headline guest speaker at the BHETA Forum on April 14, an event that looked to the future in more ways than one.

Steve, speaking on the day that Debenhams announced its interim results with earnings up 5.5 per cent, delivered an upbeat insight into Debenhams’ strategic plans outlining the retailer’s commitment to building its non-apparel business in the form of home, furniture, gift, toys and restaurant.

Foretelling a “new golden age in retail by creating experience”, Steve confirmed Debenhams’ intention to continue the evolution of its online presence, but in tandem with the development of its stores, a reinvention of its traditional promotional strategy and a significant investment in infrastructure and systems to support its plans.

Key to the success of the plan are 50 refurbished stores, five new stores with three more to follow, even stronger own brands, bigger power brands and an increase in full price sell through.

Steve’s views were a result of Debenhams’ commitment to customer engagement as confirmed by the company’s extensive investment in consumer research.

Research into and knowledge of future consumer motivation was, in fact, key to other speakers’ contribution to the Forum. Paul Magee, founder of software provider Phocas presented a fascinating illustration of how to gather and use customer data to create information which can be turned into knowledge which can be turned into power. His presentation was an exciting insight into how to interrogate figures for improved internal rigour, preparation for sales meetings, sales analysis, salesforce monitoring, prompts to action, linked sales, promotions and marketing intelligence in general.

The Forum was also briefed on the new marketing opportunities available via this year’s Exclusively Housewares and Exclusively Electrical, specifically the trends predictions provided by Scarlet Opus and sponsored by BHETA. The event also included a salutary lesson in putting consumer research and trends awareness into practice in terms of new product development protection. BHETA’s legal associates, Howes Percival outlined the lessons of the Trunki versus Kiddee Case legal action in IP terms. Such was the level of discussion provoked by this presentation that BHETA announced it would be devoting a whole forum to IP legislation including copyright, design registration, trademarks and patents.

Will Jones, housewares sector director of BHETA explained. “This whole event focussed on creating and acting on consumer knowledge – buying habits, trends, profiles – in order to develop product which meets the needs of modern retail. That level of investment needs absolute and effective protection which is where IP comes into play. We will definitely be following this up at a future event.”

For more information about this and future BHETA events contact,, member services representative Dawn Clarke on, visit or call BHETA on 0121 237 1130.

Social Links