Retailers' boss quits as online challenge grows

Last updated 05:00 12/02/2014

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The rise of online shopping and social media signalled the end of the road for New Zealand Retailers Association chief executive John Albertson.

Albertson, 65, will step down as the association's boss at the end of the month after a 17-year stint which coincided with the growth of online shopping.

He will be replaced by Mark Johnston, who joins the association next week from the role as Plunket's group general manager for fundraising, marketing and communications.

Albertson said the time was right to hand over the reins.

"The industry is going through such huge change at the moment . . . in the online space, social media . . . it needs somebody younger with a bit more energy than an old fella with 17 years on the clock."

Albertson did offer to "prepare the next round of strategic thinking" but even he was not convinced it was in everyone's best interests.

"I wasn't going to be there to drive it - I'm not going to go on forever - and I thought it was important that whoever built the plan should be the one that drives the plan."

The growth of online shopping and social media had radically transformed traditional retailing, Albertson said.

"The industry has had to become more aware of what the customer is up to. The customer actually drives the business now.

"Now retailers have to work at it much harder to make sure they've got the right offer for their customers . . . that is probably the biggest change over the 17 years."

Albertson said his successor would need time to consider the strategic direction of the association in the evolving retail world.

"Associations generally are going to have to look at where they derive revenue from and the kind of services they offer."

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