What fascinates me about retail is that every day there is something in the media, in whatever form, about the retail industry . It surprises me that there are not more fictional dramas about retailers because they seem to create more day to day drama than any other aspect of our daily lives with the exception of our own families.
In recent weeks we have had the very sad case of BHS . To be honest the only real sad part about this, is the loss of 11,000 jobs and the potential effect of the pensions of current and former employees (a further 20,000 +)The demise of the chain is not at all surprising , it is surprising it has lasted this long. The drama is Phillip Green , Dominic Chapell and last but not least Mike Ashley. You couldn’t wish to meet a nicer bunch of ‘geezers’ or at least you couldn’t if you were casting a retailer’s version of a new Guy Ritchie gangster movie.
Some of the stuff that has come out is mind boggling bonkers. Mr Chapell, who it was claimed was in the SAS(not true) also had a gun (could be true) had threatened to shoot and kill the chief executive of BHS . Well who knows ? Especially when a former financial consultant says the ‘Don’ (my suggested title) Dominic was a
“mythomaniac” and a “Premier League liar and a Sunday league retailer….”
In my long career in party market, I have come across some odd and iffy characters , but that is exactly what they were and in a funny sort of didn’t pretend to be anything else. One that comes to mind was about twenty years ago , who had a party business in East London , turned up on my stand at a trade show and apologised for not having done business with me for some time
….we ain’t done anything wiv ye for a bit cos I just done a free year stretch. Yeah and don’t worry I’ll pay ye up front….
And he did for a year but he disappeared again. Yes, he did talk like that and his wife was a slightly smaller version of Barbara Windsor. Maybe he is, now, behind the Don or the knight of the realm geezer with the greasy hair and several billion in his wife’s bank account. The point is in our industry the rogues tend not to prosper but when it gets to the big time(in retail ) they not only seem to prosper, flourish and walk on red carpet (literally) with apparent impunity.
Historically, I always found that the dodgy geezers did actually wear dodgy shiny suits and camel coats, so I should not be surprised by big(or little ) Phil ‘cos’that is the type of gear he wears.
With the party market there is likely to be a barrier to entry for the guys in camel coats and that is ‘lack of profit’. There is a good living to be earnt but not the type of numbers that would attract even the less ambitious members of The Cosa Nostra.
Failures, in our industry, generally occur through either poor management or a sequence of unfortunate events. There have been ‘dodgy dealings’ but they have been mainly in the greeting card sector, where the chains have been a lot larger. There is one notorious player who has had upwards of 600 stores, which went ‘pop’ then another that had 120 , followed by another of 80+ , and I am reliably informed is back in action somewhere. Which brings us back to the title. No it is not a euphemism for ‘Big Phil with a magnum’ (an image to conjure with, Phil with a big fat choc ice lolly in his mouth) but more about the dodgy geezers constantly rebuilding their empires.
So what I want to know who is or what keeps watering the shoots, and isn’t there some way of stopping them growing?
Here’s another thought ‘why is it nearly always a geezer?’ . Not forgetting Mrs Phil of course.