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Blame it on the Weather, man…

Author: Emma Allison
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At Forward Role, we’re lucky enough to work with some of the North West’s largest and fastest growing online fashion retailers.  Our Analytics division helps them recruit some of the biggest data science and analytics brains in the UK, to predict the behaviour of customers and maximise ROI on marketing spend.

Shop Direct alone announced a multi-million pound investment in this area over the next 3 years to power their move towards better online personalisation and putting the customer at the heart of what they do.

But there is one factor that even the smartest analysts seem to be unable to account for and that’s THE WEATHER!

I must have had a dozen conversations these last few months with marketers, traders and one CEO who were holding the weather and mild Autumn  / Winter temperatures responsible for below par sales performance. Naturally, they’d planned for it to be colder and built warm weather clothing ranges to suit the cooler climes and were now cursing their luck and their P&L.

So I couldn’t help but wonder these last few weeks, as the snow hit much of the country, if they were battling to work on the roads glumly like the rest of us or revelling in the current cold snap waiting for their knitwear to fly off the shelves?! Would the snow accelerate winter sales, or is it too little too late as consumers decide to make do for a few more weeks before Spring?

It also got me wondering if one day we’ll be briefed on a Weather Analyst or Head of Meteorology position at Forward Role? It may sound unlikely, but maybe it’s not too far-fetched after all.

In October 2014, The Met Office announced that they had invested in a £97m super computer that could handle more data and more calculations than ever before and could potentially save the UK £2bn a year by helping households prepare for floods, farmers which crops to grow and transport operators when to anticipate heavy snow. There may be a few CEO’s looking at the MET office announcement and wondering if they might be able to tap into the new data for next year to save millions on discounted knitwear!

Alas, although the Met Office chief executive Rob Varley said the supercomputer would lead to a “step change in weather forecasting and climate prediction”, he also said “It’s never going to be possible to predict in May which of the week’s in August is best to take my holiday in” so unfortunately unless range planning becomes incredibly agile, CEO’s will have to keep blaming it on the weather.

Steve Thompson is MD of specialist Analytics, Digital, Marketing and Creative recruiter Forward Role, and an Executive Search Director across these sectors. He recruits in the analytics discipline for the likes of, Shop Direct,, Matalan and in the North West and was once a Marketing Analyst himself with GUS Home Shopping (now Shop Direct Group) before his career in recruitment. If you’d like to talk about opportunities in Analytics and have a background in the likes of SAS, SQL, SPSS, R, Python, Hadoop, Hive or Research then we’d love to hear from you and probably have lots of interesting non weather related jobs on our website at

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