Vittorio Radice, chief executive of major Italian retail chain La Rinascente has set out his view of the retail climate and predicts a recovery in the market “not before 2012”.

Radice, who led the reinvention of Selfridges in the late 1990s and its subsequent demerger from the Sears conglomerate, is set to speak at the World Retail Congress in Barcelona in a session on ‘Learning from the best: putting innovative at the heart of business’.

In a recent interview Radice said that his business priorities given the current climate were to keep high footfall in stores and increase conversion, make stakeholders aware of the problems and participant to the solutions, and cash conservation.

“Customers are curious enough to come to the store but are not willing to part with their money. They are reluctant to spend for high ticket items, but willing to spend on lower ticket luxury.”

He said a joint promotion with brands in other industries, store activity, and unique and different offers could be some of the options to attract and retain customers in the current climate.

Radice believes the retail industry won’t see a recovery until 2012 and even then it will be slim, “only relevant and meaningful retail brands will survive”.

Around 100 of the biggest names in retail from across the globe are set to speak at the congress (6-8 May 2009) including Allan Leighton, deputy chairman of George Weston; John Donahoe, president and COO of eBay; Bijou Kurien, president and CEO lifestyle division of Reliance Retail; Philip Clarke, CEO of Tesco International; John Demsey, group president of Estee Lauder Group of Companies.
This year retailers will address a wide range of business critical issues such as driving growth in international markets, the science behind innovation, the people agenda, e-commerce, the changing consumer and maximising business efficiencies.