Not sure how many of you will have seen the Robert Peston series Robert Peston Goes Shopping but I have to say I’ve loved it. There are lots of TV programmes about shopping that get aired but this was one a hard-hitting, well informed, educational series that really showed how important the retail industry is to the UK.
It interviewed high-level retailers from Sir Philip Green to Sir Stuart Rose to people like former New Look boss Phil Wrigley — all of whom I’m privileged to have in my contacts book thanks to my time on industry leading magazine Retail Week both as a full-time reporter and then features editor and now a freelancer.
Even us avid retail journalists learnt something and we like to think we know it all about our industry. In fact watching this series prompted my most energetic Twitter session ever as I sat remembering nostalgically the times I spent interviewing the key characters who were coming up on the screen before me.
TV programmes about retail are great. Ones where the viewer gets to see behind the scenes even better. Last year I was asked by a TV production company to help them in their quest to find a retailer to feature in their next series of Undercover Boss. I got really excited about this project too because I remembered the impact of watching the TV series Back to the Floor some years ago and seeing the then chief executive of Sainsbury’s working as an assistant floor manager. His was a somewhat humiliating experience given it showed he knew very little about how his company actually worked at shopfloor level. Today back to floor experiences are a key feature for retailers keen to see how their business really operates at the grass roots level and to learn from it. For the viewer to see how retail actually works in practise shows them there is more to retail than just buying stuff and helps them truly understand how such companies run. It’s also great for attracting people to the industry. So well done Peston and may there be more such programmes in the future!