What does Team GB bring to Party ?

I like sport, I like watching the Olypics (especially minority sports, but not horse dancing) and I like working in our industry. So that ties all the stands together very nicely , but has little conclusion apart from a bout of smugness for the last two weeks.

I did not title this …bring to the  Party….as I want to reference the Party market as apposed to the grand all encompassing meaning of the word The Party , as in the whole of society, though I do think there is a connection.

This smugness is reinforced by the huge success of Team GB. There are aspects of this that I believe can relate to the future success of our industry and for that matter any other UK industry or organisation. Team GB has succeeded for a number of reasons:

1. Well resourced

2. Judicious use of resources 

3. Allocation of resources according to achievement 

4. Long term planning (8 years, not just 4)
The one word which may rancour with a number of readers is ‘resources’. In most cases this means funds, of which many will not have access to inexhaustible amounts. However, if you take one sport , in particular, ie cycling, there are aspects that don’t always relate to money alone.

The cycling teams achievements are based on Dave Brailsfords principals of incremental Improvents. They break down every aspect of the rider and the bike  and look to to see where they can make a marginal improvement. With the bike they will look at the saddle, the chain, the handlebars , the wheels, even the paint and look to make small  improvements on these and every other feature of the bike. With the rider they will look at fitness, personality, emotion, clothing, helmets, diet , to name just a few features, and once again seek to make marginal improvements. Every individual improvement is not a game changer in itself but added together they make winners.

I can see a blueprint here for all of us. If you take a retail store and examine just a few of its components :

A) does the store look fun and inviting?

B) is the stock clean and displayed well ?

C) is the product range the best on offer ?

D) can the pricing be improved (and I don’t just mean down)

E) are staff as trained as well as they can be?

F) are the staff motivated ?

G) is the owner motivated?

H) are your customers truly satisfied ? 

There are many more aspects to retailing but if you take the above 8 ,as an example,and were able to make marginal improvements in each and everyone, then I believe you are long way to ensuring long term survival at the very least , and long term success at the very best. It is very easy for me to make these comments about other people’s businesses , as sometimes the answers  to the questions may actually need dramatic action. If this were the case, then at some point in the future that ‘dramatic ‘ action will have to occur. The consequence of not acting would be a dramatic consequence. Better that action be proactive rather than reactive. 

Whereas , the questions will be different , the principal would be the same for all organisations. 

And here is another penultimate  thought which has nothing  to do with our market but with ,dare I say, football . Over the last thirty years internationally the various parts of the U.K. have had little notable success. There are , obviously, a lot of reasons for this. My theory is that within the last twenty years UK Sport has gone out looking for elite athletes amongst the young and scientifically looking at what sports they would be able to excel, and then offering them opportunities within those arenas. I suspect this has deprived football of some of the pool of talent as thirty years ago the only real sporting success lay potentially  within football . Now there are at least  twenty  other sports. Of course, this theory main,y applies to males as the women have achieved more success !

The other upside to this  is that not all our youth are motivated by money. Whilst there are financial rewards that can be achieved within Olympic sports , they are , in relative terms, few and far between.

Finally, back to ‘horse dancing’ . I am in no doubt about the skill involved . However, and even the successful riders go on about this….

.”..if it wasn’t for the horse , who I have lived and worked with for the last x number of years, I wouldn’t have won “

” Are you going to Tokyo?”

” No, Neddy will be too old and anyway has been offered a job on the panel on ‘Celebrity Horse Prancing”

Well give them a strange horse and see how that works out. It seems neither an ultimate test of human endeavour. Nor does it seem to be a sport that would ever take a kid out of the ghetto. 

Kidnapped Swiss elves and slices of toblerone ?

As an industry one of the biggest problems we face are “knock offs ‘, generally from the Far East. The reality is that ‘it ain’t that difficult !’. Go into the market place buy the costume you want to copy , yes you might have to pay maybe ninety quid, but just break it down make a pattern and you are away. Not exactly a costly or demanding route to market.

But luxury watches , now that’s another story and a complete mystery to me . How they heck do those conniving , cheating, thieving, but fiendishly clever counterfeiters do it ?

First of all, I would assume, they have to get the real thing . Of course, they may nick one. Or they may buy one. But buying one at full retail would, in some cases, cost tens of thousands of dollars, pounds, euros , yen or whatever. So we can assume that they nick one. But they don’t just nick  one , as they seem to be able copy every model of every premium brand and they do it very quickly .

So the next step is to make it . Let’s suppose it is a Cartier Ballon Bleu flying Tourbillon Second  Time Zone in white gold , which retails for £121,000 . No doubt a snip especially , with such  a ‘sophisticated ‘ name, despite being a pain when completing the insurance claim after you have been mugged. The counterfeiter has the real thing in front of him or her ,and starts the procedure of putting together the fake.

Every little bit of that watch , the crown, the hands, the face, the strap, the buckle, and all other little bits of minutiae, in some cases even down to the presentation box,have to be copied exactly to fool the naked eye. Then the product is shipped , distributed throughout the four corners of the globe for around about £30. Then the process is repeated for the next model .Presumably everybody in the chain makes a margin, so how the bloody hell is it done, when you can get a Timex for thirty quid (I know ‘cos I just spent £35 on one).

Just maybe some fiendish Chinese’ne-er do well’ has kidnapped a bunch of Swiss elves, hidden them somewhere in the Tibetan Himalaya and threatened to force feed them toblerone unless they make perfect copies of the world’s most expensive time pieces. In the event that this is not the case,  and I have been told on good authority that elves are not experienced watch makers, please tell me how it is done.