TLQ 1.3 | The Defiant 25

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The Defiant 25 | 2020

The Lead’s CEO dives into the selection process and criteria for the annual list.

Noah Gellman

KEY POINTS

  • The Lead’s Defiant 25 of 2020 represents a cross-section of brands and retailers who have displayed resilience in the face of current headwinds, and we believe, will come out of 2020-2021 in a position of strength.
  • Criteria were based on a number of factors: pre-COVID technology investments, the growth & effect of digital channels, cash management & liquidity, ability to pivot the product line, and international diversification.

Timing is everything. In the months and years leading up to March 2020, some companies took risks, made tough decisions, and invested for the longer-term. Some reoriented strategy and overhauled internal culture and organization. While others started small and built their business the right way, investing in tech and people. When the curveball arrived, these companies still hit roadblocks, yet some adapted to meet the needs of the moment, while others doubled down on their strengths.

The Defiant 25 represents a cross-section of brands and retailers who have displayed resilience in the face of current headwinds, and we believe, will come out of 2020-2021 in a position of strength.

We evaluated companies for sound fundamentals, not just for being in the right place at the right time. Our decision criteria were based on a number of factors: pre-COVID technology investments, the growth and effect of digital channels, cash management and liquidity, ability to pivot the product line, supply chain redundancies, and in some cases international diversification.

The evaluation process was not unlike the work we do for The Foremost 50 and Leading 100.  The primary difference was that our team had access to much more data, given that half the companies on the list are publicly traded. Our data came from Wall Street analyst reports and stock performance, discussions with the analysts themselves, interviews with CEOs (generally of private companies), off the record discussions (through our programs such as LeadTalks), and insider feedback from our advisory board. We are the first to admit that the final list is a mix of art and science – components are rooted in quantitative analysis, but ultimate decisions guided by a qualitative lens.

Most importantly, The Defiant 25 is less a list of companies for recognition (though they do deserve to be recognized) and more a blueprint for navigation. We know that being in retail today and throughout the past decade has been incredibly challenging. But there is a new breed of business models emerging– painful for some to embrace, more fluid for others. So, we point to those who have swallowed the giant pill, done the hard work, and are now starting to reap some of the rewards. We are this industry’s greatest cheerleaders and we are excited about the prospect of a strong, sustainable, diverse, and inclusive industry for the next decade and beyond.

See the Defiant 25 list here.