UK retailers urged to get ready for 2012 Olympics by former host


Retailers urged to prepare for London 2012 (picture courtesy London 2012)

Retailers in the UK are being warned preparation time for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games is rapidly running out.

A survey released today shows those in Vancouver – the city that hosted The Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games – allowed themselves an average of almost 18 months to get everything they thought they would need in place.

The survey, conducted for BT Global Services by Vanson Bourne, found 13% started preparing three years or more in advance. Even so, 47% of those contacted said their firms had failed to take full advantage of the opportunities on offer.

The survey also highlights the benefits of being well-prepared and the consequences of inadequate planning.

Eighty per cent of respondents said their firms had benefited from the Games. Forty per cent reported increases in sales of between 10 and 25% during the Games themselves. And, while demand obviously fell once the event was over, 73% of those surveyed said their firms were continuing to enjoy higher sales. Twenty seven per cent attributed this to an increase in business from overseas.

In all, 60% of respondents reported lasting benefits resulting from investments made in the run up to the Games. Twenty per cent said their organisations were more efficient, 27% were still benefiting from flexible working arrangements introduced to help staff avoid congestion caused by the influx of visitors while 13% reported enduring performance improvements resulting from upgrades to networks and IT systems.

Emer Timmons, president BT Global Services UK, said: “This is excellent news, but the results of the survey make it clear the benefits many firms gained could have been even greater. Half those contacted felt their organisations should have equipped themselves better in advance. Four per cent state that their firms missed out altogether.

“The survey’s findings have big implications for UK plc as well as for individual firms,” said Timmons.

“The next few years are going to be tough for us all. London 2012 shines out as an opportunity for Britain’s retailers to show the world what they can do and win the new business UK plc needs. It would be tragic if the opportunity were to be missed as a result of a lack of planning and investment.”

The survey highlighted the particular importance of having sufficient resources and infrastructure in place. One third of organisations experienced shortages of network capacity as a result of surges in demand from employees and/or customers during Vancouver 2010. Twenty per cent wished their firms had increased the capacity of their contact centres in the run up to the Games, while 33% said more should have been done to improve the flexible working facilities available to staff.

“The lessons from Vancouver are clear,” said Timmons. “To gain from the opportunities that increased visitor numbers will create, retailers need to prepare well in advance. The benefits will persist long after the Games are over, so executives should take a long-term view of any investments they are asked to make. But time is running out. The longer firms delay before taking steps to get ready for London 2012, the greater the chance they’ll miss out.”