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Interview with Neil McCourt: shaping the future of grocery retail in the UK

Published: 24. April 2024

Recently appointed strategic advisor Neil McCourt gave an interview with StrongPoint on how he sees the product-market fit for StrongPoint’s solutions in the UK and how he envisions the future of retail technology.  With over 25 years of experience in the grocery retail space as the former Managing Director of Tesco and Vice President at Amazon, growing their grocery business across Europe, Neil brings an unrivalled level of experience from both the in-store and online worlds. 

Neil, could you share your initial thoughts on joining StrongPoint? 

I’m excited about the opportunity the business has. StrongPoint’s vision of ‘retail technology in every shopping experience for a better and smarter life’ is exactly what I was doing at Tesco for over 20 years. From in-store technology making it easier and safer for staff, or creating faster and better customer experiences both in-store and online.  I strongly believe in the vision personally and I think it resonates with retailers, so by helping our customers, we should be able help scale further the StrongPoint technology portfolio in the UK and beyond. 

What makes the UK market unique in the grocery retail sector? 

The UK is one of Europe’s leading grocery markets with a high penetration of online adoption, however, in some ways the UK is catching up with the Nordics in terms of technology solutions. Labour costs have risen significantly in recent years and safety issues always need prioritisation.  So in some respects, we see a perfect storm of challenges as many retailers are seeing the cost of capital rise at the same time as margins being squeezed as they experience the ongoing pressure from a cost-of-living crisis. What they potentially need is a more appropriate adoption of technology which can complement the service they aspire to deliver, within the overall cost parameters of their operating model. 

How do you see StrongPoint’s technology fitting into this environment? 

The Nordics is a perfect place to look if you want to understand the future of the UK. The Nordics have labour rates significantly higher than that of the UK and other parts of Europe, even after the increases of recent years. This means StrongPoint has decades of experience overcoming challenges the UK is now facing in terms of the balance of service delivered by people and automation. 

Looking ahead, what are your strategic priorities for StrongPoint in the UK & Spain 

Our strategic priorities as a business should be no different to those of our current and future customers. Retailers, particularly in the Grocery space, are striving to deliver fantastic service and value to make shopping more enjoyable and affordable for their customers. The heritage StrongPoint’s portfolio of retail technology solutions will undoubtedly help them in their objectives.  Our priorities therefore, whilst being aligned with theirs, will be to bring these objectives to reality.

You can also read the official release about Neil’s appointment.