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Matt Taylor

Matt Taylor on commercial strategy

By Matt Taylor

Retail Consultant, Taylor Corporate Solutions

Matt Taylor’s proficiency in overcoming commercial challenges has taken him from Carnival UK to FTSE 100 retail business Kingfisher plc where he was responsible for implementing commercial strategy projects across the nine countries the company operates in. His 17 years of experience in the field has led him to become a specialist in pricing, promotions, and revenue management.

Whilst still retaining roles in retail consulting, the father of three is also conveying his commercial skills in the world of property development, alongside partner Stuart Flemming, through shared enterprise TF Property Group.

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As a retail consultant, how do you help clients overcome commercial challenges?

I'm often helping clients with what they believe to be quite significant challenges and they don't really know where to start. It quite often involves targeted root cause analysis then aligning future actions to business objectives and building a governance process to support.

I help retailers with value, pricing, and promotional challenges and opportunities. There are so many parallels from retailer to retailer and quite often pricing and promotion is a bit of a dark art. Everyone's got a view on it which makes it quite hard to get alignment and buy in across all stakeholders.

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What opportunities does pricing strategy present for the retail sector?

Prices being too low is a fairly common scenario in the marketplace, and it’s about understanding how you go about identifying those areas of opportunity.

Equally, you can speed up sales in the right areas by investing in prices that may be too high. Especially today in this omnichannel, increasingly digital marketplace, there are so many ways that customers are in control and have options available to them.

You’ve got to understand where the value-added is if you’re a retailer because it’s not necessarily matching a competitor’s prices. Being the cheapest isn’t always the right strategy if other elements of your brand proposition mean that you do have a value-added service.

You’ve transferred your skills into the property market; can you tell us more about that?

My business partner and I run TF Property Group together. Stuart’s always been quite entrepreneurial and has an investor’s mindset and I bring my background in strategic thinking and commerce. We set the business up as a way to ‘escape’ the corporate world and ultimately have more time to spend with our families.

We invested in ourselves and signed up for training on specific property strategies; this really helped us see how we could scale up a residential property business in a relatively short time frame. We set up TF Property Group in early 2018. Since then, we’ve built an ever-growing portfolio of mainly buy-to-let properties and Houses with Multiple Occupancy (HMOs). We take really rundown properties, we add a bit of the TF magic, invest in a full refurb and create a safe, affordable home. We take great pleasure in turning neglected, rundown properties into something that’s usable again.

"We’re looking at bigger and different opportunities that we wouldn't have dreamed of looking at three years ago but we've had to change up like that to survive and our level of experience means we can confidently start to move into that space."

Matt Taylor

What’s your view of the property market considering factors such as COVID and the end of the stamp duty holiday?

Our pipeline has got a bit smaller: two to four years ago, we were viewing far more properties and putting more offers in.

We’ve had to change our approach. For example, we’ve got a really big four-storey property that we’re going to switch into five apartments which is something new for us but we feel like we’ve got the experience now to start to move into that space.

We’re looking at mixed-use property and commercial to residential because of how the market is. The serviced accommodation market has gone bananas over the last couple of years because it has been difficult to travel, so we’re looking at the potential of old guesthouses and converting those into self-contained rentable units.

We’re looking at bigger and different opportunities that we wouldn’t have dreamed of looking at three years ago but we’ve had to change up like that to survive and our level of experience means we can confidently start to move into that space. I think the outlook for the market generally still looks good. I can’t see the growth is going to slow in the short term.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

I enjoy running: I did the London Marathon this year on behalf of Leukaemia Care. I usually sign myself up for some kind of physical challenge every year so I’ve done things like swim to the Isle of Wight, triathlons, and various things like that.

Who or what influences you?

My wife’s been a positive influence on me; she’s really helped me stay grounded. When we first got together, I was 21 and she was 19; she already had a clear plan for her life to study law and be a solicitor and she’s now a partner of one of the local law firms. I really do have a clear plan now and it helps on many levels, when you’re up against it you can really balance where your time is spent and what’s important to you. There are quite a few people who inspire me in the property world too so I have some personal influences and some business influences.