Taking Arms against a Sea of Troubles

Andrew Seth

'Nightmare on the high street'. 'Brand misery'. These imprecations of doom are everywhere. Suddenly, it seems, all the lights go out. Is it really so bad – everywhere?

No – it's serious, but overstated. Sectors are threatened. Food and banks are too. Elsewhere – oils, minerals – markets thrive. But these movements are cyclical – we've all lived through several equivalents. Good companies know to set realistic targets and they also know it's not economic cycles that matter most – long-term performance, sticking with winning strategy, nurturing key brands and keeping high-calibre teams matter more – much more. They remain alert – they see these cycles coming and plan ahead. The result: 'good, well-run [retailers] don't have bad years'; so said David Livingston (DJL research/Retail Wire, January 2008) – he might have said companies or brands instead of retailers.