Retail Execs Discuss Leading In A Recession

At the National Retail Foundation Convention, a panel of of retail senior execs discussed leadership in tough economic times: Kip Tindell, CEO and Co-Chairman of The Container Store, Roger Farah, President, Chief Operating Officer of Polo, and Burton Tansky, Chairman, President and CEO of Neiman Marcus Group.

Their observations were straightforward:

  • Don’t panic
  • Communicate
  • Be flexible
  • Remember who you are
  • Put your employees first
  • Bring in outsiders…when it makes sense.
  • Guide your employees
  • Cultivate trust

My take: These retail execs echoed advice that I’ve talked about in previous posts about managing in a recession. There’s no magic bullet in these tough economic times; firms just a need to remain focused on the fundamentals: customers, employees, and brands. I particularly liked this quote from Neiman Marcus’ Tansky: 

You don’t spend that much time developing a brand and let it drop or change because of a crisis, it just can’t be. We have no intention in making any changes of our brand. There is absolutely no groundswell, no discussion, about changing who we are.

If companies start cutting costs without a keen focus on their brand, then there’s no telling what type of firm they’ll be left with.

The bottom line: Don’t forget to lead through a recession.

Written by 

I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and Emeritus Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (, a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.