Archive for the ‘economics’ Category

Catastrophic collapse of retail in Brighton

July 22, 2019

North Laine in Brighton is always busy, no closed shops. Yes businesses close, but a steady turnover, not empty retail units.

Three weeks ago I was shocked at the number of empty retail premises. Two weeks later, ie a week ago, I was further shocked to find not only closed, but many more closing.

A week ago Vinyl Revolution celebrated two years in business by closing.

I paid a visit last week, unfortunately they were already closed.

I was shocked to find The Lanes far far worse than the North Laine in terms of retailers closed.

Duke Street where Vinyl Revolution was located nearly half the shops closed and boarded up, graffiti covered shutters, a sea of To Let Boards as look down the street.

I passed by a new retail development, a row of empty shops, not a single one let, and it is difficult to see they ever will be let when so much retail space sitting empty.

It is difficult to understand why Vinyl Revolution has closed, as their video describes a thriving business, which is why I wished to talk to them.

To blame Brexit is nonsense, equally to blame rail works.

Duke Street was the wrong location. Comments on Brighton Argus echo this.

I never visited therefore cannot comment on their stock, but comments on Brighton Argus describe the stock as crap.

Resident in North Laine an excellent music shop always busy and has in recent years expanded.

If I wanted second-hand vinyl I would visit Ben’s Records in Tunsgate in Guildford. Then pop next door to Krema for a coffee.

Not that I would wish to buy second-hand vinyl as rarely in pristine condition, no guarantee of the condition and highly unlikely to have been played on top end equipment, and equally unlikely anyone with top end equipment would part with their vinyl.

In Resident, new releases always displayed with a limited pressing high quality vinyl.

But even Ben’s Records is struggling.

It is not helped when Market Street and surrounding pedestrianised streets in The Lanes, that pedestrianised is ignored, vehicles parked, vehicles drive through using as short cut, Deliveroo and Uber Eats serfs ride motor scooters through at speed weaving in and out of pedestrians.

Sat outside a coffee shop in The Lanes last week a Ford truck parked outside, engine running, whilst driver having a chat with a passer by.

I have more than once narrowly missed being run down by Uber Eats and Deliveroo serfs, usually learners displaying L plates. Are they insured to carry out business?

Deliveries to the area, and what I observed were not deliveries, should park outside the pedestrianised areas, deliver using hand cart or trolley. The norm in Europe. The Deliveroo and Uber Eats serfs should be required to park in designated zones and walk through, walk through with crash helmets removed.

Deliveroo and Uber Eats serfs should not only be fined for riding through a pedestrianised aream they should be charged with dangerous driving. Sooner or later a child or elderly person will be knocked down and seriously injured. Deliveroo and Uber Eats should terminate their contracts.

Reputable businesses should not be employing Deliveroo and Uber Eats. And it is not only the exploitation and less than minimum wage. If food is ordered to be delivered, it is killing footfall.

There needs to be enforcement by the City Council.

When retail collapse occurs it can happen very fast, as we are now seeing in North Laine and The Lanes. One retailer closes, one less reason to visit the area. At least 10% will always be on the edge, the small loss in footfall sufficient to push them over the edge. Now even less reason to visit. More retailers pushed over the edge.

Businesses I have talked to are worried. They say as businesses around them close, they become isolated, fewer people in the street. Others tell me it is now tough.

What can local government and national government do to support small business? These are the businesses that bring people in, who circulate money within the local economy, who provide local character, who provide a reason to visit Brighton.

Please sign and share the petition launched by Vinyl Revolution calling for government to act to support small retailers.

M&S plastic obscenity

July 19, 2019

The plastic obscenity that is M&S gets worse.

Plastic Free July, but would not know this from visiting M&S.

Shrink-wrapped coconuts, bananas rotting in plastic bags, and just when think cannot get worse, M&S are giving away plastic copies of their produce.

Quite why anyone would wish for plastic replicas of M&S goods is beyond me. More totally unnecessary plastic waste.

Yet another massive retail fail by a failing retailer.

Why is Independent retail being left to die?

July 9, 2019

Our town centres are not dying, they are being destroyed. Destroyed by greedy landlords and profiteering developers, Big Businesses offshoring its money in tax havens, local Town Halls where corrupt planners are in the pocket of greedy developers and Big Business, where planners and councillors are clueless on what constitutes good town centre planning and how local economies function.

I love to visit Brighton.

Train to Gatwick, then to Brighton, but what a bloody pain when rail works, I have learnt do not even try.

When I arrive, I head straight down to the sea and walk along along the seafront, or head into North Laine and the seafront later. In the evening maybe take a walk along the Pier.

In North Laine, spoilt for choice. Excellent coffee shops, Coffee at 33, Pelicano, Dough Lover. Magazine Brighton where can pick up excellent magazines like Drift, Ambrosia, Standart. Infinity Foods or Hisbe for food supplies. Lunch at Iydea or Infinity Foods Kitchen. I always pop in Resident to see what is new.

What is great about North Laine, three long streets, little side streets, is that it is a Mecca of little shops, independent businesses. And not a corporate chain in sight

What though shocked me on a recent visit at the end of June, was the number of empty shops. I had not been in Brighton since last year, more than six months ago. Yes there has always been turnover, shops change, but not empty shops.

Earlier this year I was on a train from Lincoln to Nottingham in the company of three Dutch guys. They were heading to Nottingham for the football. Me, I was heading to some excellent coffee shops.

They asked me why all our towns were the same. The same crap corporate chains selling the same identical crap.

They told me that in Holland they had learnt. The corporate chains had gone, you can buy that crap on-line, to be replaced by individual local shops, coffee shops, little restaurants, in other words what makes North Laine so popular with visitors..

That is what I like in Europe, all the little shops, not corporate chains. Another big plus is that these areas are pedestrianised.

Why would anyone visit a town for the same crap chains that are in every other town?

Once I found myself in the Churchill Shopping Centre in Brighton. It was as though I had entered Dante’s Inferno, a retail version of hell, there should have been a big sign, Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here.

In Nottingham, I find excellent little coffee shops, Cobden Chambers, a little courtyard through a gate, where is located a zero wast store, indie record shop, Ideas on Paper (Nottingham’s answer to Magazine Brighton).

It is down the little sideways and allies that we find the independent businesses.

In York the quaint side streets.

It is quirky indie businesses that give the sense of place, character, that recycle money within the local economy.

Corporate chains destroy our towns, they make everywhere look ugly, no character, drain money out of the local economy to offshore in a tax haven. Boots, Starbucks, avoid tax.

Government is at fault but indirectly in failing to deal with tax dodging and pushing austerity which has left people with no spending money.

Greedy rogue landlords are a major problem. They fail to honour their repair obligations, hike rents which do not reflect the prevailing retail environment. They would rather see an empty shop and offset against tax than lower the rent.

In Winchester an excellent coffee shop Flat Whites has recently closed, landlord issues.

Where the fault lies is local Town Halls. Corrupt planners get into bed with greedy developers and Big Business, the planners are clueless on what constitutes good town centre planning or how local economies function.

Also to blame are local tourism bodies and business enterprise zones.

In Lincoln, Sincil Street, similar street scene to North Laine, ruins parallel to the High Street. Once a thriving street of indie businesses. Between the hours of ten in the morning and four in the afternoon the street was busy. Local Coop bought up the street, drove out the local businesses, brought in crap chains, the same crap chains can be found in every ghastly shopping centre across the country.

Visit Lincoln and Lincoln BIG then hyped these chains. Visit Lincoln even took them on board as partners. The head of Visit Lincoln bragged how she took a visitor to Lincoln to Lincoln Cathedral, Lincoln Castle and Cosy Club.  Cosy Club a chain of fake 1930s bars, so fake a Monty Python parody of fake.

Visit Guildford promotes corporate chains, as does Enterprise Guildford.

Visit Lincoln goes overboard to hype chains. When asked why were they promoting 200 Degrees a small coffee chain when Lincoln has two excellent independent coffee shops, the answer was if they pay us we will.

It is not only Vinyl Revolution who are suffering, small businesses across the land are struggling. Unlike corporate chains they care about the local community where they live and work, often they are the backbone, and yet, look at any so-called town centre regeneration, it will brag about the corporate chains that are being brought in, often with low rents and nearly always to the detriment of indie businesses who are driven to the margins, assuming not actually driven out of business, rarely if every get a  mention of the small businesses and where new retail development takes place it is ugly, it is filled with the same crap corporate chains as every other ugly retail development.

An example of this is the recently opened Tunsgate Quarter zombie shopping centre in Guildford, a handful of chains, boarded-up retail units, the only time people are seen is when it is raining and it provides a convention shortcut between the High Street and Castle Street and that is despite being hyped by Visit Guildford and Experience Guildford.

Do not drink the disgusting coffee in  a corporate chain, find an indie coffee shop serving speciality coffee in glass or ceramic. Ask, and they will tell you other coffee shops to try. In Brighton it is even easier,  pick up a copy of The Independent Brighton & Hove Coffee Guide.

I would never dream of buying in HMV, and it was no great loss when it went into administration.

But if I find myself in Guildford, I pop into Ben’s Records. He knows his customers, what they like. But even a shop like Ben’s is suffering.

Several years ago I found Brighton Books open. I heard interesting music playing. I queried what it was. Try Resident, it is the only place you will find it. I looked and could not find. I asked, they went straight to where it was and handed me a copy.

Sadly Brighton Books is one of indie businesses that has recently closed in North Laine.

Please sign the petition launched by Vinyl Revolution calling for government to act to support small retailers.

Experience Guildford presides over collapse of Guildford town centre

June 21, 2019

Experience Guildford presides over or should that be complicit in collapse of town centre retail in Guildford.

It may initially have been a good idea but now Experience Guildford is seen as a parasitical organisation, controlled by Big Businesses, acting for Big Businesses, squandering the money it raises.

Has anyone yet worked out what the Town Rangers are for other than make it appear Experience Guildford are doing something?

It is not acceptable when Experience Guildford promotes Cosy Club, Pho, Tunsgate Quarter zombie shopping centre.

But they are not the only ones doing this. Visit Guildford are also promoting Big Bushiness. Are Visit Guildford doing as Visit Lincoln, taking money to promote crap corporate chains?

Why would anyone visit Guildford for the same crap corporate chains as found in every other town centre?

Visitors come for something unique.

Designing cities for people not developers

April 10, 2019

What I have seen and spent what seems to be a lifetime fighting, is corrupt town halls pandering to greedy developers, fast bucks, palms greased, with result every town looks the same, the same corporate chains dominate the town centre, the same corporate chains find in every ghastly shopping centre.

This neither brings in visitors nor is popular with locals who see familiar landmarks destroyed, lose their sense of place, money is drained out of the local economy, then large chains close, go bust, expanded on debt, leaving behind desolation, as we have seen with BHS, House of Fraser, Debenhams and many other zombie companies kept afloat by their banks.

Corrupt town planners who have not a clue what constitutes good town centre planning or how local economies function love big development. Big development lots of money sloshing around, some of which finds its way into the wrong pockets.

A few examples illustrates failure of good town centre design and planning.

Sincil Street runs parallel to the High Street in Lincoln. A street of Victorian buildings, local indie businesses, or was. Up until a few years ago, Sincil Street between the hours of ten in the morning and four in the afternoon was busier than the High Street, the High Street the same corporate chains find anywhere and everywhere. Now Sincil Street is being destroyed, the local council acting in cahoots with the local coop, local businesses driven out, chains brought in, Victorian building destroyed.

Enter the picture Lincoln BIG and Visit Lincoln. Both are hyping the chains, it gets worse Visit Lincoln being paid to do so.

Many towns now have businesses development groups, accountable to no one, act for and controlled by big businesses, not one vote per business, based upon the size of local business tax.

Experience Guildford employs Town Rangers, no one knows what purpose they serve other than to deliver a glossy A4 newssheet to local businesses which goes straight in the bin. They also subsidise the town centre car parks at Christmas, the one time of the year when the car parks are full to overflowing.

Latest examples of Lincoln BIG, take selfies and post on instagram, install an app that has access to data on phone and if use default facebook log in access to facebook data and that of friends

Ask any local businesses what is killing them. High rents, high local business taxes. The local coop owns the properties hikes the rents, Lincoln BIG exacts a levy on top of the local business taxes. Local businesses see no benefits.

Visit Lincoln masquerades as a tourism body, acts as a quasi-PR agency, is paid to hype the corporate chains moving into and destroying the character of Sincil Street.

Fake-Left Guardian had an article describing the dire state of Sheffield. The local council responded with eight tweets, big development taking place, corporate chains listed, same chains find anywhere. The same Sheffield City Council that destroyed thousands if not tens of thousands of street trees, harassed and criminalised protesters.

Empty two-coach Northern Fail train Lincoln to Sheffield, hour and twenty minutes only starts to fill as nears Sheffield passing through small towns like Worksop, making the point, not worth visiting for corporate chains find anywhere.

One of the chains mentioned, 200 Degrees, a small coffee chain serving mediocre coffee, the same chain hyped by Visit Lincoln and Lincoln BIG.

Oh the irony, when Sheffield has a thriving coffee scene and 200 Degrees empty.

In Sheffield Union St, coffee shop, co-working space, pop up kitchen, community hub located in an occupied building, Now Then, an interesting magazine, supported by local community and local businesses, published by a not-for-profit.

Farnborough destroyed half its town centre for a superstore, an estate of social houses surrounded a grassy green destroyed for the car park. A 17th century inn destroyed for a drive-thru McDonald’s.

Wastegate, chain eateries and a superstore on the edge of Aldershot town centre, destroyed the town centre now boarded-up retail units and the chain eateries pulling out from Wastegate.

In the centre of Guildford Tunsgate Quarter, a sterile shopping centre, boarded-up units, same crap cooperate chains find in every ghastly shopping centre across the country, devoid of people. The only use, provides a handy short cut. One of the crap corporate chains Cosy Club, a fake 1930s bar, so fake a Monty Python parody of fake, Visit Guildford promoted on twitter over a dozen times.

Contrast with North Laine in Brighton, three long streets, similar Victorian street scene as Sincil Street in Lincoln, local indie businesses, butcher, baker cheesemonger, bookshops, music shops, coffee shops, restaurants, worker coops, not a chain in sight, always busy.

When all places look the same they become soul destroying, we lose our sense of place, alienation sets in.

We need to green our cities, protect our existing green spaces.

In Farnborough they are destroying the remaining green space for development, in Sheffield tens of thousands of street trees have been cut down.

City centres should be pedestrianised, delivery vehicles park on the periphery, deliver by hand cart and trolley.

Cities generate data, the data should be used as a common good. Citizens may consent to access to their data receiving benefits in return, the data randomised and made available to local businesses.

The city should support and encourage local businesses and local coops, encourage to network with each other

Citizens need to seize control of their local Town Halls, open to public participation, network with other citizen-controlled Town Halls. No more one party states.

There is not a conflict with locals and tourists. There is only conflict when lose businesses serving locals and replace with businesses selling overpriced tourist tat, when AirBnB moves in, rents are hiked, but that is a problem of over-tourism lack of regulation, rather than tourism per se.

At the time of the English Civil War, the Diggers asked the question: who owns the space? The space they were asking of was land, who owns the land?

They saw God created Man and Woman as equal, the land was owned by everyone and no one, it was a common wealth. 

The question is as pertinent today. Who owns the space, who owns the public parks, public space, the empty buildings, the data we generate?

Space is not static, something to be owned. It is dynamic, only has meaning if used, lived on, shared, enjoyed. Derelict buildings we must occupy, put to use on behalf of the community, fight the loss of community space.

Demolition in Sincil Street

February 2, 2019

The demolition of a building in Sincil Street started Monday, by mid-week building almost demolished, Friday piles of rubble.

More regurgitation of corporate press releases by scribblers at Lincolnite masquerading as news reporting.

This is not regeneration, and no matter how often regurgitate Lincoln City Council and Co-op propaganda, it is still not regeneration.

Sincil Street has been trashed, local businesses destroyed, the Central Market a disgrace, and for what, to make way for more corporate High Street chains, the same crap chains that can find in any ghastly shopping centre.

Contrary to the Lincolnite scribblers I saw no bulldozers, nor were any bulldozers visible in their pictures.

What I did see, was heavy equipment being used to demolish a multi-story building alongside a street with passers-by, a hoarding to prevent unauthorised site access and yet no other protection.

This may be acceptable on a remote factory site, it is not acceptable in a town centre.

There should have been scaffolding covered with netting to protect passers-by from flying debri.

The jobsworth who signed this off, who put people at risk, at the very least negligent if not criminally negligent.

Curry’s demonstrate why buy on-line from Amazon

January 10, 2019

Last week freezer of a fridge freezer failed.

Food rescued and stored in the garden, which at least kept viable for a couple of days.

To repair, quoted a price of £175, or £50 if no repair,  therefore decided to buy a new fridge freezer.

Last Friday paid a visit to Curry’s, a large shed on an inner city bypass, a large superstore of household appliances.

Settled on a Grundig fridge freezer, in the Curry’s Sale, £200 down from £300.

Price of many ridiculously high, for what is little more than an insulated box with a coolant system.

Grundig fridge freezer displayed on the door available in white or brushed metal.

When asked for white, an extra £20 was demanded. This was illegal, something Trading Standards should investigate, as there was nothing displayed to say white was extra. The model on display was brushed metal, a dull gun metal grey.

A moot point white, as not in stock, earliest the following Friday, with delivery some time after that.

The performance of the fridge freezer not prominently displayed. Displayed at the bottom of the lower door. Ideal for a dog to read. What were customers expected to do, get down on their hands and knees to read?

Grundig Fridge Freezer ordered. Free delivery not available until Wednesday of the following week, could arrive any time during the day.

Paid an extra £20 for removal and disposal of the old fridge freezer.

Wednesday morning, ie yesterday, delivery arrived at eight in the morning. A call fifteen minutes earlier to warn of imminent arrival.

Delivery said they could not take the old fridge freezer, a service paid for, as no room on their van, but would return within the next hour to collect.

Old fridge freeze dumped on the back lawn. Why, when hard standing where it could have been placed?

This caused a problem, as lawn maintenance service arrived in the afternoon, and had to work around the dumped fridge freezer.

Day turned to evening, no collection of fridge freezer.

Curry’s not only failed to take away the old fridge freezer for which they were paid £20, they also dumped the packaging for the new fridge freezer in the garden.

On checking today to ensure Curry’s had actually delivered the correct model as ordered, to my surprise, or maybe I should not be surprised,  I discovered the delivery was actually intended for someone else.

Curry’s were called this morning. They refused to accept any responsibility. Said the earliest they could collect would be some time next week.   They are in clear breach of contract. They were told, payment would be cancelled, and they could collect the delivered fridge freezer.

Curry’s then backed down said the earliest would be Friday, ie tomorrow, two days after the fridge freezer was delivered and old one should have been collected.

At minimum will expect refund of £20 paid for collection, as Curry’s in breach of contract.

Note: Curry’s turned up 9-30 Friday morning, 48 hours after old fridge freezer should have been collected. Two guys and a van. They had not a clue what it was they were to collect. Yet another example of Curry’s poor service.

Fridge freezer turned on after leaving to rest for five hours.

Had not reached temperature after one hour, had after two hours.

A slight adjustment of thermostat, and now with food returned from garden to fridge, has stabilised at correct temperature.

Freezer is still empty.

A bad design feature, no digital readout of fridge or freezer temperature. These days would expect as a standard feature.

Another bad design feature, bottom of fridge curves upwards towards the door. This makes very difficult pulling out the drawer for vegetables and salad and for gaining access to contents.

To compare with Amazon. A book ordered Saturday evening was delivered Sunday morning.

High Street chains are collapsing. Latest casualty HMV, which is no great loss.

High Street chains are failing because of their poor service. They compete with online by cutting service.  Thus enter a death spiral.

Latest results show failing retailers M&S and Waitrose did not do well over Christmas. This comes as no surprise when their service is so bad. Premium prices, fresh produce wrapped in plastic, bananas rotting on the shelves,  and yet cannot man the tills at checkouts.

Attrition of indie businesses on The Strait and Steep Hill

December 31, 2018

Walking up The Strait and Steep Hill, quite shocking the number of closed, failing or for sale independent businesses. More what one would expect in a run down town centre than what was once named only a few years ago the No 1 street in the country.

Why, what has caused this collapse?

One factor is the reliance on tourists. The tourist footfall has collapsed. The principle cause of this apart from maybe fewer tourists, is the bus that takes people from the High Street to Castle Hill, depriving them of an interesting walk, and for the local businesses loss of opportunist footfall.

Many running the businesses are clueless.

Christmas and New Year is when there are a lot of tourists milling around. And what do the local businesses do, they close. They will reopen in the New Year when it will be dead until Easter.

Lincoln Castle closed. The Tourist Information Office closed.

And the excuse for being closed. It is Christmas and New Year.

It would be better to be open, then take a well earned January break relaxing in Tenerife.

Coffee Bobbins closed over Christmas New Year rumoured For Sale.

Undrinkable coffee from Lincoln Tea and Coffee, tea tea pigs tea owned by India conglomerate Tata, Tetley under any other name, a recipe for disaster.

Modern Classics, a greasy spoon cafe with Mod memorabilia, closed a couple of years ago. Has remained empty ever since.

Lincolnshire Live, claimed a mystery it was closed. Not really, lack of customers. Maybe hacks should get out and about a bit more.

Bird’s Yard junk shop, rarely open, odd hours when it is open.

Vintage Clothes shop, rarely open no surprise it has closed.

Base Camp, an excellent coffee shop, closed over Christmas and New Year. No indication when open. It is for sale, maybe has already changed hands.

Bunty’s tea room, not open Christmas New Year. Former owner sold changed tack to distilling gin.

Harlequin Bookshop. An excellent bookshop or was. Now sitting derelict. The bookshop driven out of business by a greedy developer.

The shop below Harlequin Bookshop sitting empty and gutted.

Bookstop Cafe closed over Christmas and New Year.

Imperial Teas, excellent for tea, also coffee and chocolate, tea and coffee making paraphernalia. The rare exception open over Christmas and New Year, as a result a steady stream of customers. The other big difference, focus on quality and service, the staff and owners know their tea and coffee.

Pimento tea rooms. Once an excellent tea shop, served tea from Imperial Teas. New owners took over and destroyed within six months. Yet more new owners have taken over, but will remain closed until sometime in the New Year, thus missing the Christmas New Year trade. An unhelpful notice on the window tells passers by to check social media for when open, but looks no time soon.

Widow Cullens Well Closed. Premises gutted.

The Old Mouse House Cheese Shop & Coffee Bar, previous tea shop closed and gutted. Fake cheddar cheese, tea pigs, Stokes coffee. How long will it survive?

If pass through into Bailagate, Bailgate Deli serving undrinkable coffee supplied by Lincoln Tea and Coffee illustrating why we need a latte levy. Customers sat outside drinking from takeaway cups. Not open part of the Christmas New Year season or closed early.

Pass through Bailgate to Coffee by the Arch, was for sale, sale agreed, buyer pulled a dirty trick, offered half the agreed price as contracts were due to be signed.

Down in the town centre, Sincil Street has fared even worse. Once, busier than the High Street between ten in the morning and four in the afternoon. A street lined with indie businesses in Victorian buildings, trashed by the local council in bed with the local Coop.

Each time a local businesses collapses, there is less reason to visit a street, more businesses collapse, a domino effect. And this collapse can destroy a street, as we have seen in Sincil Street and are now starting to see in The Strait and on Steep Hill.

It does not have to be, poor town centre planning, lack of understanding of how local economies function, clueless individuals.

Internet and on-line shopping get the blame.

It is not why High Street chains are failing, they are failing due to piss-poor service. Their answer to on-line, cut service, treat customers with contempt, and enter a death spiral.

We have seen HMV collapse, the first casualty of the New Year. And yet indie record stores, for example Ben’s Records in Guildford, Resident in North Laine in Brighton, are doing well.

But, as one young lady running a business on Steep Hill told me, she never enters a shop, buys everything on-line, she added the same was true of all her friends.

Indy businesses cannot compete on price, they can only remain in business on quality and service, something many on The Strait and Steep Hill fail to comprehend, and thus do not remain in business for long.

If you open a coffee shop serving poor quality coffee worse than the corporate chains, cut corners, buy cheap catering supply coffee, do not invest in equipment or people, open a cheese shop selling poor quality cheese will find in the Coop, are rarely open or keep irregular hours, then on hiding to nothing and will not survive for long, and will join the 80% of businesses that fail within their first 18 months.

It does not though have to be. North Laine in Brighton, three long streets similar to Sincil Street, side streets, quirky indie businesses, bookshops, coffee shops, fashion shops, music shops, little restaurants, always busy, not a chain in sight.

Indie businesses provide a sense of place, they recycle money within a local economy, employ people, but no help or support from local council.

Iceland’s palm oil Christmas commercial banned

November 9, 2018

Palm oil plantations are among the biggest driver of deforestation, threatening the orangutan with extinction. — Iceland Foods

Palm oil is bad for people and planet.

There is no such thing as sustainable palm oil plantations, it is an oxymoron.

Palm oil plantations are monocultures devoid of life apart from the plantation trees.

Palm oil plantations are destroying rain forests.

Palm oil is high in saturated fat, higher in saturated fat than pig fat. At room temperature palm oil is solid. It used to be known as axle grease as that was what it was used for. The only reason it is liquid at room temperature is because it has been chemically processed.

Palm oil is used to bulk out products from foods to cosmetics. It is used because it is cheap.

It is ok to advertise and sell products containing palm oil, even though bad for people and planet. Even to mislead people that it is healthy.

Whole Earth peanut butter is padded out with palm oil.

M&S are selling so-called healthy spreads where the main ingredient was palm oil, and yet called olive spread.

Oxfam shops a couple of years ago were selling peanut butter in a plastic jar padded out with sugar, palm oil, and salt.

OK to advertise palm oil products, but try to air an advert that highlights why palm oil is bad, and your advert will be banned for being political, as Iceland learnt when their Christmas advert was banned.

We have an obesity epidemic. We have a type-two diabetes epidemic. But it is ok for McDonald’s to promote their junk food, Coca-Cola their sugary drinks, but not to suggest we eliminate palm oil.

M&S have a stupid Christmas advert claiming they went around the country asking people what they wanted for Christmas.

Would it have not been better to have toured their shops, sorted out their piss-poor service, tills not manned, lights turned out ten minute before store closes, fresh produce wrapped in plastic?

But then M&S is a failing retailer, and with this level of contempt for customer service, it is easy to see why.

Business for Punks

October 7, 2018

If we will disbelieve everything, because we cannot certainly know all things, we shall do much what as wisely as he who would not use his legs, but sit still and perish, because he had no wings to fly. — John Locke

At Brew Dog our business is built on the punk mentality. At its core punk is about learning the skills to do things on your own terms. At Brew Dog we reject the status quo, we are passionate, we don’t give a damn and we always do something which is true to ourselves. Our approach has been anti-authoritarian and non-conformist from the word go. — James Watt, Business for Punks

Brew Dog have been fundamental to the development of the craft beer scene in the UK. It’s not an exaggeration to say that Brew Dog have changed the shape of British Beer. — Peter Brown

Chaos is inherent in all compounded things. Strive on with diligence. — Buddha

The odds are stacked against, heavily stacked against, the success of a new business. 80% have failed after 18 months, even then it is not plain sailing, the chance of becoming a sustainable business is only 1 in 20.

I have recently been witness to one of these failures, a bread shop serving light meals, tea and coffee and cakes. They did so many things wrong it was a car crash in slow motion. The food was served on the first floor up narrow stairs, but with no idea what was up there or on the menu, how many are going to climb the stairs? With the businesses on its last legs a few months before they closed they did stick a few tables and chairs downstairs by the window, but too little too late, still no menu, still no specials listed outside. The tea served was teapigs, rubbish tea, poor quality catering supply coffee sourced locally, no skilled baristas. To display in the shop front serving teapigs may as well run up a flag saying we serve bad tea. I never tried the bread but I was told by those who tried, it was expensive and of poor quality.

Five years ago may have got away with serving poor quality coffee, not today, and especially not when open opposite one of the top coffee shops in town with two more nearby. They were told their tea and coffee was rubbish but refused to listen they knew best.

And not the only failing tea and coffee shop in Lincoln or up for sale.

Brew Dog in 2003 was two men and a dog in shed, £30,000 and ambitions to brew quality craft beer as an alternative to the disgusting beer from corporate chemical factories served in failing pubs. The rest is history. Year on year growth, profitable growth. As I write the company employing over 1500 people, three breweries, the beer found across the world, the company valued at over a billion pounds.

Business for Punks is how they did it, advice for would be punks.

Find a niche in the market. No. Create a new pond and be the biggest fish in the pond, then grow the pond.

Touch phones did not exist until Steve Jobs launched the iPhone.

If opening a coffee shop, be passionate about coffee, buy in only the best specialty coffee not cheap catering supply coffee because it is cheap, have quality tea, loose leave tea. Find someone who can bake mouth watering cakes. And to state the blindingly obvious, employ skilled baristas.

Do what you believe in, be true to yourself, follow your dreams, could be straight from The Alchemist, maybe it is.

What you are doing is what you are passionate about, what you love, you want to share that passion with others. Martin and I did not just start a brewery — we set out on a mission to make other people as passionate about great beer as we are.

Go on a course for would-be entrepreneurs and you will be instructed to draw up a bullshit business plan. Why? To bullshit someone in a bullshit job in a bank or other financial institution to hand you some money.

If you have an awesome product why do you need a sales team, even less a marketing department? The money spent on a sales team is money that should have been spent on your awesome product.

That awesome product is what people will want, they will tell others.

When a specialty coffee shop opens, the owner and baristas are passionate about what they do. Customer who love their coffee will tell their friends, bring their friends, bring ideas from other coffee shops, maybe if very lucky bring in guest coffee to try.

Do not produce cheap widgets with low margins and low cost as the selling point. Someone somewhere will undercut with a lower price. Then in a race to the bottom. Produce a quality product with a high margin, then have the money to reinvest. If attempts are made to lower your price, do not give in.

Two suppliers of catering supply coffee competing on price are in a race to the bottom. There are no winners, only losers. Coffee shops that buy their cheap coffee do not care what they serve their customers, they cannot compete with the corporate chains and eventually go out of business.

High Street chains compete with on-line by cutting service. We know how this ends, they go into liquidation.

A specialty coffee shop does not attempt to compete with corporate chains. They focus on what they are good at, serving high quality coffee. Word of mouth.

Roast quality coffee. Specialty coffee shops will curate as guest coffee. Customers will recommend to other coffee shops. These are your fans, they are advocates for your awesome product.

If you are successful at what you do, trolls will crawl out and attack you. These are pathetic people never successful at anything, who hate the success of others. Ignore them.

Dogged determination, a belief in what you are doing is essential. For the first six months Brew Dog was losing money. They needed to sell 70 cases of beer to break even, they were not even selling ten

Cash is king, without cash flow you are finished.

Jamie Oliver in the middle of an interview, the interview was curtailed, he had two hours to inject cash into Jamie’s Italian before the chain collapsed.

Profit is good, but cash is king. Without cash, no money to pay staff or creditors.

Banks lend to those who have money. Have more than one bank.

Look to alternative financing, crowdfunding.

Crowdfunding gives some goodies, an album, signed album, tickets to a concert. Brew Dog take this a step further with Equity for Punks, yes, get the goodies, but also get a stake in Brew Dog. Those who had faith at the beginning, have seen their shares increase in value by 500% within the first five years.

Brew Dog also have a share trading platform.

The people who have invested, share the same passion for craft beer, spread the word.

As I write, Equity for Punks V.

Look to suppliers for a soft loan. If you are a growing business, it is in their interest you grow as both grow together.

Be aware of opportunity costs. Invest 50,000 in a bottling line may appear a good deal, helps the business to grow, to satisfy demand, but what are not investing in?

That great sale may not be so great if do not get paid, even worse if they go bust.

Demand payment up front, demand payment on time. Late payment eats into cash. Cash is king.

Do everything yourself, you have no money to spend on frivolous activities.

Consultants will bleed you dry.

Focus groups are for losers. If you do not know your businesses, your customers, why are you in businesses.

Ladder pricing is an interesting concept. The product you wish to sell, give it a mid-price, not the highest, not the lowest. If the highest, it looks too expensive. If mid-price, lower price for people who want something cheaper and looking for a bargain, higher price for those who wish to pay a little extra, and the mid-price gives the impression getting a good deal. The actual price has not changed, only the relative pricing structure.

Marketing is for losers.

Marketing jobsworth know nothing about social media.

Word of your awesome product spreads by word of social media, that is word of mouth in a digital age.

Brew Dog at the beginning was selling more to Tokyo than Abderdeen.

Brew Dog did not court overseas distributors, they came to Brew Dog.

People hate advertising. Turn down the sound of the TV, go for a break, freebie magazines with zilch worthwhile content go straight in the bin.

Social media is personal space, when advertising intrudes, people hit back. Vodafone have you paid your tax, Nespresso we like coffee we would not drink your crap.

And yet they do not learn.

Do not grow the fish, grow the pond.

90% of the beer market is, or was, crap beer from the corporate conglomerates.

The same sadly could be said of coffee not only the chains serving crap undrinkable coffee, indie coffee shops serving rubbish corporate brand catering supply coffee.

In a coffee shop, baristas talk to interested customers, why direct trade better than fair trade, low roast better than dark roast, cappuccino not served scalding hot else bitter nor in oversize cups, and no do not dunk on top chocolate or add syrup, it is done to hide the bad taste of cheap coffee. Once the taste of good coffee has been acquired, the customer will ask of other specialty coffee shops in the locality. When visiting a new town, will seek out specialty coffee shops.

The pool is growing, making room for more fish.

Culture matters, everyone knows what they are doing, this is then reflected to the outside world.

Contrast with companies that keep employees in the dark, in soul destroying jobs, on minimum wage, zero hours.

Those that perform well in a job interview, may not be best suited, all they have demonstrated is they will perform well in a job that requires to perform well at interviews, for which job applicants are trained like monkeys jumping through hoops.

Be creative, do not look to the industry as will be a follower not a leader.

If Apple had looked to Nokia, they would have designed a better Nokia, instead they designed something different. Where is Nokia today? Nokia?

Ideas can come from anywhere.

All board members may only spend fifty percent of their time on current issue, the rest of their time on how to grow the business.

Layers of middle management, not wanted. People who have been on businesses courses not wanted, who have learnt how to draw up bullshit business plans, to devise structures for the company, to then distort the company to fit these structures.

Networking is for fools and posers and wannabes.

Take risks. Only by taking risks can move forward. Mistakes will be made. Learn from mistakes. The only person who never makes mistakes is the person who never takes risks.

Brew Dog shipped beer overseas in kegs. The kegs failed to be returned. They leant there was a demand for Brew Dog overseas. How to solve the keg problem? How to meet the growing demand? They used KeyKegs, kegs that could be recycled. Except it has introduced a far bigger problem, KeyKegs are plastic, one way trip disposable plastic kegs. A disaster for the environment.

Be proactive not reactive. When problems arise, and they will, deal with them, knock them on the head, else will grow into larger problems.