Adam Shaw

SCMC 2016 Report: Adam Shaw sets the scene

Published:  14 April, 2016

Broadcaster and business journalist Adam Shaw hosted the Shopping Centre Management Conference, and he began by surveying the economic climate in 2016

Shaw identified a number of threats facing shopping centres and the wider economy in 2016. He pointed out that UK consumers are the keenest in the world to ditch the traditional shop, with online sales now accounting for 15 per cent of all purchases.

And in the wider economy he identified four potential disruptive factors – Brexit, a Trump presidency, rising interest rates and economic downturn.

On the EU issue Shaw said the debate was long on emotion but short on facts, but he quoted global investment firm Blackrock as warning that Brexit would bring with it “a lot of risks for very little reward.” He also quoted research from the University of Warwick which found the UK’s GDP was 10 per cent higher than it would be without EU membership.

Equally, he played down the possibility of a Trump win in the US election in November, pointing out that the blustering property developer was the least popular of all the potential candidates among the wider electorate.

But the structural changes in the wider economy are only accelerating, Shaw said, pointing to brands like Skype, Uber and AirBnB which are disrupting long-established industries by owning no assets and employing virtually no staff. “The biggest innovation is coming from outside those industries,” he said.

So how can businesses defend themselves from these technological insurgents? “When companies believe they’re just selling a product they’re at risk from someone selling it cheaper,” Shaw said. “If you’re defined by who you are nobody else can be you.”

And he concluded with a maxim coined by prof Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum: “It’s not the big fish that eats the small fish, it’s the fast fish which eats the slow fish.”

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