RISMEDIA, May 14, 2011-Senior financial executives of global retail companies expect improved financial performance in 2011, as a result of increasing consumer demand, but many indicate that their companies will have difficulty raising prices and sustaining profit margins, according to a survey by KPMG International.
In the KPMG global survey of 152 retail executives, 24 percent expect "significant increases" in financial performance over last year and 51 percent are expecting "some increase." Only nine percent expect a decline in performance. This optimistic view is a result of seeing an increase in consumer demand. In fact, 18 percent say they've already seen a sustained increase in demand for their company's products and services since the economic slowdown, while 54 percent expect sustained demand in 2011, and 24 percent in 2012 or later.
Despite the growth in demand, 58 percent of the KPMG survey respondents say that their companies will have difficulty raising prices in 2011 and 41 percent say that their firms will have difficulty sustaining profit margins. In identifying the greatest threats to margins, 56 percent point to costs of inputs or merchandise and 47 percent to discounting and other sales incentives.
"Retail executives are seeing strong top line growth, but in order to generate growth and success in the years ahead, their companies will need to reconsider and often recast their understanding of customers, markets, and their means of serving them, as well as the level of investment that it will take to succeed going forward," says Mark Larson, KPMG's Global Head of Retail.
"With consumer behavior, spending, and demographic profiles changing rapidly," Larson says, "a key to success will be investing in technology to harness the vast amounts of data that reside in a company. That data can derive the insights that lead to the new markets, new strategies and new operating models that will ultimately generate growth and profitability," Larson says.
As to how they believe their firms can increase market share, 46 percent say primarily through organic growth initiatives, 22 percent say through a mix of organic growth and M&A, and 22 percent primarily through M&A.
Forty-four percent of the retail executives in the KPMG survey believe that it is "very likely" that their companies will enter new geographic markets in 2011 and 30 percent say "somewhat likely". In expressing how they will expand, 53 percent say by opening new stores, 39 percent say through additional distribution channels (including online), and 21 percent say through mergers and acquisitions.
Asia (49 percent) and the United States (48 percent) were identified as the global regions where the retail executives expect the greatest growth in company sales. The next two regions were Latin America (44 percent) and India (40 percent).
KPMG's Larson believes that, "We're witnessing the beginnings of a cost-to-growth agenda in retail characterized by a renewed focus on growth, while preserving margins, and investing in IT. The sector has learned the hard way that it can't take its eye off the ball of cost management."
In fact, according to executives surveyed by KPMG, retailers will pursue major investment in customer relationship management systems, business intelligence systems, and enterprise resource systems for transaction processing.
In improving supply chain efficiency and costs over the next two years, the retail execs-in order of priority-see enhancing distribution structure, investing in production or distribution technology, decreasing inventory levels, and consolidating suppliers as the greatest priorities.
KPMG conducted its survey in the first quarter of this year and conducted another phase in April to gauge how crisis in the Middle East and Japan in April may have impacted operations. Sixty-four percent report little or no impact on their business operations, while 31 percent report moderate impact, with five percent seeing a dramatic impact. When presented with an array of issues, 61 percent say they expect "energy, input, and merchandise prices" will be most affected, followed by 35 percent who say "availability of goods and services from my company's suppliers."
For more information, please visit www.KPMG.com.
2008 RISMedia, Inc., All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.