The challenges of retail

Argos are celebrating their 45thbirthday. An interesting business model that no others have copied and yet it is staggering forward & growing slightly once more (I haven’t personally examined the P&L) convinced it can compete with the likes of Amazon.

I was interested to hear John Roger, Chief Executive of Argos talking on You and Yours on Friday 6 July about his ambitions and belief Argos can compete and that after a somewhat turbulent few years it is now seeing a positive upward growth. And as we know it is now part of Sainsbury’s offering a potentially more accessible localised market place. Time will tell.

As many households will recall with fondness the ‘Argos catalogue’ the most cherished item before the internet. Every child in the land would sit and paw through the pages and mark their wants and desires for their birthdays or Christmas. After all, Argos had everything.

My sons’ when they were four and six respectively used to lug a catalogue home in their folded arms with such determination despite its weight because the deal was, if you wanted it you carried it!

Listening to the interview today one thing struck me. Argos apparently doesn’t have an ideal customer. Although clearly Argos thinks the Sainsbury’s business profile fits their demographic even if they say they have no specific customer. Argos is designed to appeal to everyone commented John Roger. Now this truly interests me, as businesses we know if you appeal to the masses you appeal to no one. Every business has its niche, and this has to be its USP. I am going to watch very carefully the continued story of Argos and its apparent wide appeal and see where it takes them.

They believe they have a future and I wish them well but my business intuition is saying the alarm bells are already ringing.