Container Store CEO highlights how the best retailers stand out

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Kip Tindell

In advance of NRF’s Annual Retail Industry Luncheon, held next week at Retail’s BIG Show, The Container Store CEO Kip Tindell discusses how the NRF Awards committee selects retailers for specific accolades each year, what causes companies to regard another executive as a true “merchant prince,” and the store everyone needs to visit.

You’ve served on NRF’s Awards & Nominations Committee for a couple of years now. What does it take for a retail executive to truly stand out from the crowd and earn the NRF Gold Medal Award?

It is talent and brilliance that causes fellow top retailers to regard someone as a true “merchant prince.” A life’s body of work…a career that suggests this person is one of the finest retailers ever… Roger Farah certainly fits this description and we are very proud of him winning the Gold Medal Award this year.

Fast Retailing Co. Ltd. has won the International Retailer of the Year award this year. What thoughts can you share about the company?

Everyone should visit their shiny new Uniqlo store in New York’s SoHo district. But you may have to stand in line to get in! Fabulous quality and fashion at fabulous prices. Tadashi Yanai, founder and Chief Executive, may be the retail industry’s fastest moving and most fearless leader. Already at $7.4 billion in annual sales, his ambition is to be the world’s largest clothing retailer by 2020. Unafraid of making mistakes (he views them as learning opportunities), his autobiography is entitled, “One Win and Nine Losses.” This philosophy enables him to expand globally at a dizzying pace, and to promote young talent to key executive posts. Whew! Fast Retailing Company is a marvel to watch.

Zappos, the Retail Innovator of the Year award winner, has embraced social networking as a way to boost their already stellar customer service reputation. Did this factor in to their winning the award this year?

Yes, well Zappos uses Twitter and other social networking strategies to help build the company brand and culture. They’re committed to transparency. They’re committed to communication. They’re committed to fun. They’re committed to Zappos’ wonderful corporate culture. That leads to amazing customer service, and unusually committed customers and employees.

As chairman of the Awards Committee, you served as emcee of the ARIL Luncheon last year, and will be repeating your performance this year. What goes through your mind when you recognize these retail leaders in front of nearly 2,000 retail executives?

It just reinforces my passionate opinion that retail is the greatest of all professions. What a joy and privilege it is to have these amazing award winners as colleagues and friends.

Has serving on the Awards Committee taught you anything new that you’ve been able to apply to your day-to-day operations at The Container Store?

Of course. I learn something every time I’m around another retailer. Several thousand of the top retail leaders in the world are at this NRF event. Interacting with them is hugely valuable and fun.

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