Former Brand Collective CEO Martin Matthews believes that retailers and shopping centres alike need to work together to help rebuild consumer confidence following the lockdowns. 

Having moved from his CEO position at the fashion house to MD of mask brand Castle Grade earlier this year, Matthews told Ragtrader that now is the time for the industry to be visibly showing how it is operating in a safe manner. 

"Retail sales in the states that haven't been locked down have been pretty good in the recovery but foot traffic is still down," Matthews said. 

"That's telling me that there is still a percentage of the population that is still nervous to go out and shop. 

"I think shopping centres need to put a concerted effort into making sure that it's very visible that they are keeping the environments and the surfaces clean. 

"The important thing for retail is that we can't just do those things, we also need to make sure that we're communicating that we're doing those things really clearly," he said. 

Speaking on his move from fashion to the PPE/health and safety space, Matthews said that he was interested in supporting the recovery of retail and the wider economy through products such as masks. 

"Retail businesses have been really hard hit even with the JobKeeper support which of course expires for many of those businesses. It has been challenging. 

"And what retailers need in the long run, and what we all need from an economic perspective, is to be able to operate and live with this virus. 

"So with time on my side after leaving Brand Collective, I just decided that I would work on some projects that were related to COVID recovery. 

"It just seemed like the logical thing to put time and effort and energy into because it's good for all of us in the long run if we can find better ways to manage this virus without lockdowns," he said. 

Matthews is also working on a secondary project to aid recovery and get consumers back into shopping centres, he added. 

"Another project I'm working on is UV sterilisers for escalator hand rails. 

"If you think about what surfaces you touch in the shopping centre; you don't have to touch the hand dryer; you don't have to touch the doors they're automatic; there is literally nothing you have to touch in a shopping centre outside of a shop except for the escalator hand rail. 

"So I'm working with a South Korean manufacturer on UV sterilisation product that fixes to the hand rail and automatically sterilises the hand rail every time it passes through. 

"Those are the types of things we're going to see; solutions that deal with those 2% here 2% there surfaces or areas that could increase transmission," he said. 

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