How can General Counsel navigate the future of retail?

Author Georgia Morgan-Wynne
October 13, 2022

Taylor Root recently hosted an engaging roundtable breakfast led by guest chair, Ruth Daniels, General Counsel at Superdry.

We welcomed over 20 General Counsel across a breadth of retail and FMCG businesses. Chatham House Rule allowed our attendees to speak freely about how their companies have handled situations, whilst sharing best practices and ideas about navigating the future of retail. The session prompted conversations ranging from the impact of the pandemic, hybrid working, the cost-of-living crisis and what’s next for the future of retail.

The retail industry has always had to adapt to keep pace with consumers and our changing world. Whilst we may have hoped that the global pandemic was the worst of the difficulties presented there are new macro-economic and micro-economic challenges for the industry to tackle. These include the increase in the cost of operations, complexities due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the UK’s latest budget announcement, spiralling interest rates and the cost-of-living crisis negatively impacting consumer spending. However, challenge often forces change and brings innovation which creates opportunity for those retailers that can evolve.

The discussion went on to explore some of the challenges associated with the war in the Ukraine, particularly around supply chain and government-imposed sanctions. Several luxury retailers in attendance agreed that they had faced numerous difficulties pivoting around the new legislation. For some luxury retailers they have lost a major market in Russia and lack of clarity around the implementation of new regulations has been extremely challenging. 

A common challenge General Counsel from both large and small brands wanted to discuss was around managing hybrid working. Many leaders are still struggling to find the balance between good flexible working and maintaining team culture. This led to a wider conversation around talent attraction and retention with most General Counsel agreeing that hiring lawyers for their teams felt harder than ever. The impact of law firm salary hikes and aggressive hiring strategies from FAANG brands has driven up expectations at the junior end of the market and put pressure on in-house leaders to significantly increase salary bandings or look at creative ways to attract new talent and structure their teams.

As we looked into the future of retail there were some exciting developments. For example, one retailer noted that as their business deals with luxury goods, and they don’t get a high footfall ‘it is all about service’ and their business has redefined their store space and how they can use it in a different way. ‘Whether that’s art galleries, NFTS, it’s all open and I’m impressed with the imagination that quite a lot of our staff have’ – shifting consumer habits has forced great innovation for this retailer. New technologies are helping to create seamless customer experiences both online and in-store which is helping to drive revenue and brand loyalty. The ESG agenda was discussed during the closing remarks, and it is hopeful to hear that brands are working together to collectively tackle some of the biggest challenges facing society and our planet.

Thanks to Ruth for leading the discussion, and to all of our attendees who shared their experiences. Our market report and salary guide 2022 will be available to download shortly.

For further information on the event or for assistance building out your legal team or making a move yourself please contact

Featured Content