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Retailing in the 'VUCA' global environment

Understanding the new, volatile world of retail, and how to thrive as a retail brand in the fast-changing global arena are just two of the topics being unpacked at the 17th annual Congress of the SA Council of Shopping Centres in September.

René Carayol, CEO of the Inspired Leaders Network in the UK.
René Carayol, CEO of the Inspired Leaders Network in the UK.
Supported by the International Council of Shopping Centres and sponsored by Nedbank Corporate Property Finance, the Congress is being held in Sandton in September with the theme "Un-Cover". It is the largest gathering of retail and retail property professionals in Africa.

René Carayol, CEO of the Inspired Leaders Network in the UK, will speak to the idea of a volatile, uncertain, chaotic and ambiguous (VUCA) world.

In the good times, retailers enjoy stability, consistency and accurate forecasts of their financial performance," he explains.

"But in the VUCA world, retail powerhouses like Tesco, Carrefour and Marks & Spencer can all post profit warnings, which indicates that retailers need to be cautious about forecasts."

Make the future happen, don't just try to predict it

He argues that in the VUCA scenario, retailers and their leaders need to rely on their judgment and experience to make the future happen rather than try to predict it.

Using examples like John Lewis, Selfridges and Zara to illustrate how traditional retailers can totally change the game, Carayol points out VUCA is the new normal and it's highly unlikely that will change anytime soon.

Homegrown retail entrepreneur Robbie Brozin, founder and CEO of Nando's, will be offering his insights on how to keep a brand fresh and relevant across 1,040 restaurants in 26 countries world-wide.

He points to a great family of Nandocas (members of the Nando's family) world-wide; a great product; and a dedication to quality and service.

"We don't always get it right, but we try damn hard!" he laughs.

Cheeky, innovative advertising and restaurant design keeps things interesting fresh. The bottom-line is that while factors like the internet have grown, the basics of restaurant retailing have stayed the same.

Going the extra smile

"Smiling people serving great chicken is still our Holy Grail," he sums up.

Other Congress highlights this year include inspirational keynote speakers like civil servant, write and cleric Rev. Frank Chikane and explorer Kingsley Holgate.

"The topics at this year's congress speak to the current reality of many countries and specifically the retail sector, which are not unique to South Africa. Looking at the calibre of speakers, I believe that great insights will be garnered by the participants to generate strategies for an economically viable sector," says Frank Berkeley, Managing Executive: Nedbank Corporate Property Finance.

The SACSC Congress will take place from 11-13 September 2013 at the Sandton Convention Centre.

For more information about SACSC's 17th Annual Congress email moc.acirfai@refnoc or visit

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