Nilesh Mistry, Commercial Director for Retail & Industrial Safety, leads our UK and international retail sales strategy. Throughout his career, he has worked closely with retailers and customers to create better, safer shopping spaces.
During this interview, we discussed the latest trends and growth opportunities within the retail safety space. Topics include:
- Rising shopping trends
- Supply chain disruptions
- Fostering customer success
Please tell us about your experience at McCue.
Definitely! I’ve been in the industry since 1999. I used to work for the retail side, first of all, for clients in the grocery sector. From there, I worked my way up from in-store to head office, where I got a close understanding of how customers operate. In my time at McCue, the business has changed dramatically. We mainly focused on grocery retail to begin with and, as the business has evolved, we've developed our own safety products in the warehouse sector.
From a leadership perspective, I like to lead by example, so coaching my team and making sure that they've got the tools to do the job. It's about understanding and building relationships with the customers, so you get the longevity and partnership with them going forward.
What do you think customers are really looking this year?
A big part is they're looking for reliability in the supply chain. Within the last few years, there have been unique challenges that have resulted in unpredictability for customers and suppliers.
In the UK, the cost of living is increasing, particularly with higher energy bills. Therefore, customers and companies are being more conservative in spending, and closely monitoring their cash flow. That can translate into strategic decisions that focus on refurbishments and other adaptations to retail spaces as opposed to investing in traditional, brand-new stores.
With the changing economy, some supply partners and companies have disappeared completely from the marketplace — which creates more demand and strain on the remaining supply chain. Therefore, supply partners are looking to establish stability and reduce strain. Sustainability is also on many customers' agendas, so it's important to consider and work with them towards their environmental goals.
With longer leads times in the marketplace and customers wanting this stability, we're diversifying our network of suppliers to ensure availability. I think that really sets us apart from anybody else in the marketplace: our bold approach to ensure our customers' needs are met. This builds and grows a strong relationship between us and the customer. The key to anything really is good communication and understanding of what your customers require. and we maintain a strong relationship, which is why I always ensure that communication through my team and through my customers.
Have you seen a shift in how we are approach solving our customers' most pressing business needs?
Yes, in terms of business strategy, we're focused on supporting our new and current customers. We closely work on not only their protection needs, but other, new areas where we can support them as well. That means seeking opportunities to integrate our options and continue to provide full, turnkey services. Then it can be easier for customers to protect their assets by sourcing it from one place — aka their “one-stop safety shop.”
So where do you think the business might be going in the next couple of years?
Since our acquisition with Bunzl, we've been going through an exciting period. Most importantly, I think the international side of our business has benefitted from Bunzl's infrastructure to get better networks and market presence. It's allowing us to grow those area and evolve, essentially getting our products to customers who need them.
In the United Kingdom specifically, we've witnessed an enormous amount of activity in click and collect over the last several years. Retail trends are constantly evolving, so an important part of our work is listening and connecting with our customers to ensure their most pressing business needs are met. Because their operations constantly evolve and grow, so do ours. That can mean collaborating with them to improve programs like their click & collect services, but it can also mean helping them with protecting their in-store assets or other pressing needs that come up.
How, if at all, do retail trends in the UK differ from the rest of our current business?
From a UK perspective, now we’re seeing a change in click & collect and home shopping builds. We anticipate seeing more of this throughout Europe and the US as well.
What kind of goals do you have for integrating sustainability with our business or where do you think the future is in this specific industry?
From a retailer perspective, it’s important to consider our customers’ sustainability and environmental goals. For example, there’s been a big push to reduce carbon dioxide emissions — specifically from refrigeration case. As stores replace their cases for more environmentally friendly options, we’re helping them protect their brand-new assets and keep them looking good.
Why do you think McCue is different in this space? What makes our approach different?
Our people make us the difference maker in the marketplace. I believe that they are our greatest asset. We’ve found success in the marketplace because we have strong customer relationships, and they know us for our innovations. If you talk to a customer, some of them use our brand as a household name to refer to retail protection — they might say “I need to go and buy some McCue.” It’s great to have that relationship with people and help them solve their needs.
We’re also different because of our expertise and innovation — we lead industry innovation. For example, we started with polymer products, and now we’ve seen other companies join us in engineering retail safety products using polymers.