25 May HGA Interview: Richard Hyman
Richard Hyman is a world-leading expert in the retail industry, having provided top-level analytics, insight and thought leadership on retail intelligence for more than 35 years. Richard has advised many of the country’s leading retailers, analysing, forecasting and evaluating all the key sectors and companies across the retail market. We talk to him about his career progression and how he got to where he is today:
Tell us a bit about how you got to where you are today.
It’s a long story – I’ll give you the edited highlights!! My career began at the Financial Times in the 1970s where I was a Researcher in their Business Information Service. I did a few things for the paper but it was mainly research and analysis for subscribers, usually the banks and brokers. From there I went to Mintel as an analyst, soon went onto the Board and was running the business in the early 1980s. Left to start on my own business – Verdict, a specialist retail research company. I built Verdict and sold it in 2005. Joined Deloitte as their Strategic Advisor. A year ago I returned to working for myself, launched my website www.richardtalksretail.co.uk providing advice and strategic thought leadership to senior people in and around in industry.
What made you embark on a career in retail?
I was a business analyst focusing on the consumer economy but retail was by far my favorite area. It is in many ways the most challenging business I know, and certainly the most dynamic. Trying to figure out how it works, why some companies win while others don’t is fascinating and after 35 years, it has lost none of its attraction and fascination for me.
What has been your career highlight?
I suppose founding, building and successfully selling Verdict would be the highlight. But there have been many. I am very lucky in that I love what I do and most of my network are my friends. It’s far too pleasurable to be considered work!
What advice would you give someone who wanted to follow in your footsteps?
As a businessman, I would say that 98/99% of people are not suited to owning and running a business. It takes a certain type and you cannot learn to be that type. You need to be very driven, single minded, and being stubborn and pig-headed helps too! So unless you are these things, do something else!
As an analyst, never believe what you are told or what you see. You need to look at everything through that critical lens and figure out what the underlying answers might be. The added value in the retail business model is intangible, and understanding the subtleties in the relationship between the retailer and customer is key.