The Spring is Released

- by Ash Hobkinson, Partner in Articles

The Spring is Released

Andy Haldane, the BoE’s Chief Economist, commented a week ago that the economic recovery was “poised like a coiled spring.”

Across the board there is huge pent-up demand for fun, variety, socialising and travelling which will have a massive positive impact on all the consumer facing sectors.

April 12th and May 17th now appear to be the “release” dates for Travel, Leisure and Hospitality, but whatever the exact date, one thing is certain and that is the need to adapt business strategy to the changing consumer landscape

So much has been written recently about the acceleration of business change “we did in 3 months, what we planned to do in 3 yrs” etc. But what about the impact on strategy? Any evolved and forward thinking board will have rebooted its strategic roadmap over the last few months and the question we now ask is “Do you have the right structure in place to deliver this new strategy?

Clarity’s mantra is Strategy, Structure, People and we are increasingly working ‘upstream’ with CEOs and CPOs to help define what the organisation looks like that can capture and exploit the many opportunities that a welcome return to growth will bring. We will need to engage with consumers differently and recognise that the way they live, work and engage with brands has changed forever.

Having created a structure which is fit for purpose, a rigorous talent review should follow to ensure the requisite leaders are in place to capitalise on the anticipated consumer demand.

If there is a silver lining to this pandemic, it is the opportunity and permission to think and act differently and be bold in our ambitions for our companies, our culture and our people.

What do we see in the market?

Digital: The silver bullet? Not always. Regardless of the sector, it is paramount that a digital presence is the crucial customer tool. Developing a “shop window” and Direct to Consumer (or DTC) offering is vital, as is the ability to deliver it profitably. Grocery chains to QSR brands are scaling their DTC capability, and there is a demand for executives who can provide this. Individuals who have experience in creating the infrastructure to meet the needs of the digital channels are essential.

Agility: A much used corporate phrase! We have hosted several CEO forums over lockdown. Commentary would suggest that many executives are not always able to operate in rapid change environments. Moving forward, execs with a proven ability to implement innovation rapidly via A/B testing and engage without the complete picture will be in demand.

Partnerships: CapEx “lite” strategies that deliver expansion create an increased demand for individuals who have experience developing global alliances, joint venues, and franchising. Brexit, political tensions in the East and a more “inward” looking US have seen organisations shifting their market entry strategies.

Diversity and Inclusion and ESG: There was a shift to “enlightened capitalism” before COVID. George Floyd’s death was the rightful ignition for the D&I agenda to become a priority in Boardrooms. Investors and customers want to see real change. We are working with clients to develop and engage diversity at SLT and Board level. Clarity D&I Initiative

Strategy and Transformation: The impact of COVID on an organisation’s structure (CVA, redundancies, furlough etc.), combined with the need to “wargame” future strategies, has increased demand for executives with both consulting and P&L exposure who can make an immediate impact.

Leadership: Organisations with hierarchical, inflexible, and siloed leadership will not survive. Developing and discovering leaders who can create followers beyond their areas of influence are the future.

In early Feb 2020, very few leaders had anticipated the seismic impact a “flu” in China would have on their businesses and the economy. The fallout has been huge, and we are partnering with clients to meet the demands this places on the talent equation.

We would welcome the opportunity to share what we are seeing in the market across the Travel, Hospitality and Leisure industries.

Let’s hope the bounce back delivers!


Clarity is an International Board Advisory and Executive Search firm specialising in the Retail, Consumer, Hospitality and Leisure sectors.
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