Welcome to the Ruck Blog!

Hello and thanks for visiting our blog - here you will find interesting articles on what's happening in the world of point sale, visual merchandising and display innovation.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Fair Rates for Retail Campaign Starts Today!

With business rates set to go up again this year High Street retailers have asked the government to look at how business rates are calculated for the retail sector. With more shops every day standing empty and the current difficult economic environment another hike in rates would not help to stimulate the retail sector.
The Fair Rates for Retail Campaign is being launched today by the British Retail Consortium and Retail Week, and Ruck Retail Solutions have already pledged our support as suppliers to the retail sector.
The last two years has seen rate increases of more than £500m to the retail sector, and the expected increase next year will add a further £200m in costs for retailers. With many chains struggling with a multitude of factors in this recession such as  higher priced raw materials, higher distribution and operational costs, quarterly rents and cash flow, combined with lower consumer spending, taking another hit on business rates it seems is a hard pill to swallow.
Currently 28% of business rate taxation comes from the retail sector so it's important to the treasury as a big source of revenue. However retailers are asking the government to look at the bigger picture here - the more they pay in rates the less they will have to invest in town centres that desperately need a face lift, create jobs and invest in the business. With the Government looking into ways to revitalise our flagging High Streets, surely the two campaigns must work hand in hand with each other.
Of course it hits the independent small retailers harder but with more big chains struggling this effects retailers across the board.
BRC director-general Stephen Robertson said: “The most important four-letter word in Westminster should be jobs but another £200m next year can only lead to more closed shops and fewer chances of work for those, including young people, who need it most.
“The Government must act on its promise to review the system. And it should recognise that retail has already more than made its contribution by freezing rates in 2013.”
To sign the petition and pledge your support please visit here:


Wednesday, 19 September 2012

From Catwalk to High Street - The Fashion Cycle

With London Fashion Week having ended High Street pattern designers will be scurrying around like mad to get the latest trends and styles interpreted for their next season collections. Designs will be sketched up and out to their manufacturers within days, and the collections ready for the next season.
Primark famously boasted that "Once a style is identified it can take as little as 6 weeks to reach stores" and the likes of Zara, having their own manufacturing and distribution, can have catwalk inspired items in store within 2 weeks. Technology is speeding up that process, with designers often streaming their shows live and of course the LFW website has videos of all the shows uploaded pretty quickly. Social Media has opened up communication across the globe and sees outfits tweeted and talked about within minutes. Retailers can see easily what's trending and being talked about, and pick up on what's going to be hot for next season.
We don't realise just how much our clothing and style is influenced by the catwalk shows. Looking at some designs you'd wonder how on earth anyone would wear some of the more outlandish collections, but those ideas filter down to more wearable fashion in the High Street stores...style and colour trends in our shops are all inspired by the designs on display at London, New York, Paris and Milan.
You won't find High Street retailers attending the fashion shows, strictly the reserve of the media, photographers, high end boutique or niche stores and of course the who's on the 'Frow'  much talked about celebrities. However some High Street brands are making it on to the Catwalk more recently, such as Topshop and Victoria's Secret. Topshop have collaborated with many top designers and celebrity collections have helped to bridge that chasm between high end designer fashion and High Street.
Earlier this year a report commissioned by the British Fashion Council on the "Value of Fashion" was presented to the House of Commons, which was the first comprehensive report of its kind, looking at everything from the top fashion houses to low priced retail chains, taking into account manufacturing, wholesale, retail, media and marketing businesses across the fashion sector. Fashion is the 15th largest industry in the UK directly employing 816,000 people, which then makes it the second biggest employer by sector.
The report concluded that the fashion industry is now worth £21 billion a year to the UK economy, with LFW being a big part of that.  It could be worth as much as £37 billion in its wider context when tourism and industry related businesses are taken into account.
So LFW is over for some but for the industry it's just kick started a hive of activity as retailers rush to get their versions of what's coming off the catwalks into store.
Some of the highlights and designs that inspire what we will be seeing in-store soon.

Friday, 14 September 2012

London Fashion Week Kicks Off Today!

It's London Fashion Week again! Starting today, no sooner have the Paralympics finished and all the Olympics displays are taken down and we're into LFW already! This is the busiest quarter of the year for retailers and LFW really does get us all in the mood for shopping!

So what do we have to look forward to  style wise, filtering down to designers in-store on the High Street for Spring / Summer 2013? It's the catwalks at London Fashion Week that typically inspire ranges across chains of cheaper High Street shops and supermarkets. The fashion we wear up and down the nation stems from the designs being marched up and down catwalks this week.

With Topshop leading the way High Street brands are making their mark on Fashion Week and for the first time this year Topshop are offering a purchase service from the show itself.

Here's a nice little preview from LFWTV on what we have to look forward to over the next five days in this trailer film created by the winner of the Fash/On Film Mentoring Scheme. A new nationwide search for emerging film-making talent launched in June,  where one talented young person is selected to collaborate with the fashion industry to showcase up and coming designers, to be shown  in full at LFW, sponsored by River Island:

A short film celebrating London Fashion Week performed by Spellbound Gymnast Troupe to showcase the best of British catwalk designs SS13 filmed in time lapse in the fountains at Somerset House, by the Guardian:

The show started with Antoni & Alison, complete with marching brass band, reinforcing the year of the British! Films of all catwalk collections can be seen on LFWTV:

Fyodor Golan explain the inspiration for their catwalk collection and an interview with Hilary Alexander, just a couple of highlights from the day, by 55TV:

Watch this space for more on London Fashion Week!

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Halloween - Big Business in the UK

Our warehouse is full of spooky looking displays and POS items being picked and packed for roll outs to major supermarket chains across the UK. Ghosts and skeletons, bats and ghouls, mummies and spiders...it's all wonderfully fun and our favourite time of year receiving in these items, and sorting through them ready for installation!

Halloween, although an old festival is gaining popularity year on year as influences from across the pond make this a bigger celebration than it was when I was a child, back then it was penny for the guy and bonfire night that was the main Autumn celebration. Children did go trick or treating and have dress up parties but it's a world away from apple bobbing and homemade costumes...there just wasn't the amount of merchandise availabe then.
Now supermarkets dedicate their whole seasonal aisle to Halloween at this time of year and decorate with floor graphics, hanging nets and signs to display ghoulish items that are for sale on the shelves. It does seem to be quite supermarket-centric, unlike Christmas and Easter, as people spend less on Halloween items, looking for cheap sweet and food items, costumes and decorations.
Halloween was celebrated more in America and I think Walmart owned Asda have had a big influence on bringing big time promotion of Halloween to the UK, partnering up with brand manufacturers to offer exclusive Halloween themed confectionary items.

Halloween is now the third largest selling opportunity after Christmas and Easter so it's understandable that supermarkets spend so much on display items to maximise on sales - just try getting through the supermarket with your children when there's a huge fun and excitingly decorated aisle tempting them in! Reportedly worth more than £300 million to UK retailers in 2011, and with a growth forecast of 12.5% predicted this year by retail analysts it will be worth more like £315 million! A decade ago consumers only spent £12 million on Halloween so you can see why supermarkets and major retailers take the display and promotion of Halloween products seriously.

As we do every year we look forward to the Halloween installations, it's a fun time of year in the warehouse and for the teams out on the road making up seasonal aisles up and down the country delight customers and their children with their spooky displays!
Look out for our next blog with photo's of the 2012 displays once they're installed!