Andrew Jennings is a senior retail executive with more than 45 years of leadership with some of the world’s most respected high-end, speciality and department stores, including Harrods and House of Fraser. Recognised for his leadership and performance-driven management style, Andrew is sought out for his vast knowledge of consumer trends and retail practices in both mature and emerging markets.
Why did you decide to write and publish a book?
I’ve been fortunate enough to have had a privileged career in global retail leadership, one which I’ve thoroughly loved and have been successful at. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made my mistakes, but I have learnt from them, and I have learnt from them quickly, which is key. I’ve also learnt from my successes.
Looking back on these experiences, I felt inspired to pass them on others, whether at CEO level – which can be a lonely position at times – mid management, or those starting out their careers in the industry.
I have also been inspired by my work as Chairman on the Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Leadership Group for The Prince’s Trust. We have been able to help disadvantaged, out-of-work young people carve out careers for themselves. All proceeds from sales of my book are have gone to The Prince’s Trust.
Did anything surprise you about the publishing process?
I describe myself as ‘a student of retail’. I can now extend this to ‘an advanced student of the publishing business’. It was important to me that I manage every part of the process, – from layouts, to cover design, printing and selling – but I’ve been fortunate to work alongside great teams, such as whitefox, throughout. It is a challenging business, but one that has been very rewarding. 8,500 copies sold in 8 countries and counting.
What do you wish you knew then which you know now?
Nothing – ignorance is bliss. Had I known how much work would go into making my vision for the book a reality, I may have had second thoughts.
What did you hope to achieve from the publication of Almost is Not Good Enough? Do you feel you achieved your goal?
With Almost Is Not Good Enough, I wanted to remind retail leaders of the fundamentals of successful retailing, and shed light on what it takes to remain relevant. There is a lot of challenges facing retail at the moment, and the rate of innovation can make it difficult to keep up. But, it’s surprising to me how many retailers don’t get the fundamentals right, such as knowing your customers’ needs, wants and desires.
I set myself a goal of selling 8,500 copies internationally, to raise in excess of £60,000 for The Prince’s Trust Charity. I am thrilled to have achieved this goal.
What has been the response to the publication of your book?
I’ve had a really positive response. It’s great to hear that such a broad range of readers found it interesting, from CEOs around the world to those in middle management, as well as young people at colleges who want to get into retail.
You decided to publish a large format hardback with colour images. Why do you think print books still resonate in a digital world, especially in the business sector?
Despite the rise of laptops and computers, sales of paper notebooks continue to soar. According to the Washington Post recently, Moleskin reported a rise in sales in 2018 and there are over three million posts with the #bulletjournal hashtag on Instagram. The truth is, everyone loves a handsome book. Quality and style never die.
What impact has the book had on your work?
It has been a great tool to ignite conversation around the future of retail. Over thirty of the world’s top retail CEOs contributed their invaluable insights to the book; it has been a joy to work together with so many talented industry leaders on the book.
You were shortlisted for a Business Book Award. What did this mean to you?
I was thrilled to be shortlisted only eight weeks after the book had been published. A great credit to everyone involved. However, Almost Is Not Good Enough – we should have won.
Moving forwards, are you planning on writing more books? What aspect of the publishing process might you choose to do differently next time?
The content of Almost Is Not Good Enough is more relevant now than ever, with the current challenges facing retailers. But, never say never…