After a short break, Alexandra Hayes came back to join the Lighthouse team later last year as our Business Development Manager. Alex has extensive experience in the industry and we’re so pleased to have her back with us. We had a chat with Alex to discuss what she brings to the Lighthouse team and to get some top industry tips…
What’s it like to be back?
It is such a breath of fresh air! I’m so glad to be back and I feel like my brain is brimming with new ideas and innovations that will make our customers products the hero.
You mention on LinkedIn that it’s been a busy few months for you – both professionally and personally. Is it important to keep setting goals professionally and personally and what are your tips for juggling that all important work life balance?
I’m embarking on the second part of my CIM course, having just passed my Applied Marketing exam. I set goals and deadlines for everything, my life is ruled by lists! I’m a firm believer in: the more you do, the more you CAN do. I have to have a plan, even if I deviate both at home and professionally. At home, my son Oscar has settled into his new school life and is loving the structure that school provides.
You have been working in the retail FMCG sector for the last 18 years. What changes do you think have been the most profound over that time and what are the burning issues right now?
We have all witnessed the decline of bricks and mortar retail, exacerbated by the pandemic. Our buying patterns have changed; historically we used to do a large monthly grocery shop, and we have seen this move to an increase in online shopping with people doing smaller ‘top up’ shops, sometimes daily. The latest development of till-less shopping, with outlets such as Amazon Fresh and Tesco Get Go, will work well for certain demographics but not others, and the retail format itself has limited applications and is not suited to every high street. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see how these stores fit into the geography of other retail sectors over the next few years.
I suspect that 2022 could see the most changes in retail. As the new HFSS regulations are rolled out in October this year, we will all see changes to store layout, an increase in NPD products and potentially some fallout for some brand owners and suppliers with the reduction of shelf space. However, there are many new opportunities that we are talking to our customers and retailers about as a result of the new legislation.
Sustainability remains a hot topic at the moment, and rightly so. I am a mother of 2 boys, so I am conscious that it is our responsibility to look after our world for future generations. As such, I am involved in some exciting strategic projects with two retailers that cut out greenwashing and enable Lighthouse Display to provide displays for circular closed loop recycling.
What top tips would you give brands and retailers looking to create impactful (and profitable) displays in store?
Involving stakeholders early would be my top tip! Our manufacturing time is very short, but it can take much longer for the development approvals, especially with fragmented teams. Planning is key, if we get it right it’s certainly possible to make displays that will suit multiple channels, over several promotions with little or no change.
I personally enjoy projects where we there is a collaboration between us and the brand, where we can partner up at the early stages to design in features and benefits that will truly stand out in retail and genuinely increase sales.
A recent example of this is where we completed a successful store trial for a semi-permanent reusable clipstrip. We were able to work really closely with the retailer in question to understand their aspirations. Lighthouse designed a bespoke solution with true benefits to both the store staff and our planet. This is our first post-store circular economy clipstrip, with the facility to return to Lighthouse for repurposing and recycling. The header features a QR code to help store staff to understand the journey at end of life and the roll out to all stores has been confirmed for later this year.
Your role at Lighthouse Display includes providing mentoring and support to the team here, as well as working closely with brands and retailers. How does building trust and relationships help you in your role, and how does it benefit the brands and retailers you work with?
Trust is at the heart of everything; marriage, family, work, hobbies. Trust builds a team with loyalty and mutual respect, for both our similarities and differences. We all need to be comfortable expressing our different opinions, as not feeling confident to speak up in any aspect of life is not a healthy thing for anyone. I feel genuinely lucky that I am surrounded by such amazing inspirational people including colleagues, customers, retailers, lecturers as well as my family and friends.
With a background in 3D product design, you’re a creative as well as a strategic thinker. How do you think creative and strategic teams can work together better?
The creative process is tricky to constrain, its super helpful to have people who will give you the space for blue sky thinking and then help you reign it in to something more practical and achievable.
Having a range of skillsets is vital to the success of a team and projects. Again, the project mentioned already is really fitting. The clipstrip and header was innovated between myself and the creative team; Barry the production manager researched into the sourcing and environmental credentials to identify the most suitable manufacturing substrates, as well as QR codes (technicalities of printing as well as the navigation mechanism). Helen and Annie sense checked and guided the project, critiquing the overall look and feel as well as the clarity of message and Helen was instrumental in the generation of the information provided once the QR was scanned. It was also great to be able to utilise expert knowledge and insights from outside the business; obviously our retail partner, also the Recycling Report from industry guru Steve Lister and our supplier partners including Antalis and their Green Star System™ sustainability information.
Interested in chatting through ideas for your next project with Alex or another member of the Lighthouse team?