Why do We Swallow all this Guff ?…and if it’s not all Guff, it’s bloody expensive ….

What does ‘Guff’ mean…..

Cambridge Dictionary

Second question …From whence does all the flow ? First two frames of the first image. Now before you scream and shout ….

If you add the first image with the second , it may give a clue.

You simply cannot generalise . Management consultants would not be so successful if they’re weren’t successful !

And this quite right , I should not generalise. It is without doubt they perform many a useful task in many sectors. They invest large amounts of money hoovering up the world’s greatest potential talent and training them to be good at what they do .

This is a list of the U.K.’s leading consultants…..

And this is how they earn some of their keep …

The value of contracts awarded by the government and public bodies to consultants rose from £1.2bn in 2019-20 to £2.5bn in 2020-21, according to Tussell’s analysis. The figures include work for central government and arm’s length public bodies, but exclude local authorities. Payments under many contracts may be lower than their published value — and in some cases consultants pass on work and fees to subcontractors. Financial Times October 2021

Actual spending on consultants by central government and arm’s length bodies was about £1.5bn in 2020-21, said a person briefed on the government’s figures. That was about double the total of “more than £700m” the government has said it spent on consultants the previous year. Financial Times October 2021

So was it all worth it ? That is not for me to judge but there are reasons to be cautious .Again taken from the Financial Times. The paragraph below that refers to a threat that the U.K. Government is considering not allowing KPMG to bid for contracts.

PwC’s German headquarters in Frankfurt and its offices in four other cities in the country were searched on Tuesday in a far-reaching investigation of suspected aggravated tax fraud by current and former partners. The raids, which also included the private homes of eight individuals, were disclosed in a press release from the Frankfurt General Prosecution office. Some 250 law enforcement officers across Germany took part in the action.

KPMG’s reputation has suffered in recent years after a series of fines for misconduct. It is also under investigation over other allegations of malpractice.

It is very easy to find faults in any large organisation employing thousands but when these organisations are involved with central governments, throughout the world, spending public money, there, at times, seems to a huge lack of scrutiny . Of course during the pandemic, UKGOV needed expertise not to hand within the civil service. However there are so many examples of vast amounts of dosh slipping through public finance hands into Consultants pockets without any fruitful outcomes . That said there are times , particularly during the pandemic (ppe) when seeking expert advice would have been more effective than ringing your mates.

I suspect one of the problems with major projects such as the various attempts to digitise the NHS is the lack of specific knowledge to be able draw up comprehensive briefs for consultants to work to. But just as likely is for the Civil Service and politicians inability to fully comprehend the plans and advice presented by advising organisations.

32 billion items of ppe…..ordered at a cost of £12.5 billion in five months (This turned out to be drastic over order, based on ‘modelling‘ from Mckinseys, one of the many consultancy firms to be quids in from Covid).

Private Eye 1560 Nov 2021

Deloitte’s partner in test and trace was Serco. ……….But then Serco was no stranger to public service foul ups , including with Deloitte it’s auditor as a partner in crime. The latter being fined £4 million for not spotting Serco had cheated on tagging contracts a few years before with tagging contracts.

Private Eye 1560 Nov 2021

£665 million Cost to tax payer of services from Deloitte 202/21 (not all Covid)

Private Eye 1560 Nov 2021

It would very easy to be flippant (or flipping easy ) to just say that Management Consultants are just organisations designed to suck up vast amounts of dosh . ‘Cos they do. If one considers the figures below they amount to a figure that is approximately 30% bigger than the entire U.K. defence budget. But ( and I’m struggling a bit) they perform a function. They must do if the good people of the UK spend £63 billion with them. They have huge resources of expertise that would not be commercially viable for any single organisation to have sitting still in a room until they are needed.

Total Size of the UK Market

  • UK Management consultancy  Market Size: £63bn
  • business Number of Businesses: 172,912
  • employs 419,850 IBISWorld(reseeacrh organisation established 1971)

These numbers are on the top end of estimates, but it sort of suits me. They, only, reinforce the argument you can find any number that suits your own theories, which I suspect is an argument much used by The Consultancies selling their wares.

When the numbers are this big it is easy to make cheap shots as there are bound to be screw ups, and the odd over charge (Deloitte’s average staff pay inc pension and NI is £77,000-£27,900 average for NHS worker ) in their vast spread of work but at the same time the icing on the cake is going to be pretty thick.

Some ‘Guffy’ examples…

  1. “What’s the so-what?” Translation: How is this analysis useful? Real meaning: You’re one up on me because you’ve done…
  2. “MECE” Translation: Mutually Exclusive and Completely Exhaustive. Real meaning: Tell me you haven’t missed something… Forbes

Whilst it is quite clearly not all guff, the bit that is will be bloody expensive.

Re-inventing the Wheel….Retailers do it all the time ……

An Original Wheel
An Original Retailer

I’ve got to say, whilst both concepts remain little changed in their function , the ancient retailer, in many ways, resembles the modern version much more than that of the original wheel.

Whilst aesthetics and the use of the wheel has undergone massive changes, basically the retailer does exactly the same as they would have 2000 years ago and more. They buy something and then sell it. Meanwhile, the wheel has undergone multiple transformations. It is no longer just about shifting stuff , it enhances power, tells the time (cogs), controls movements (steering wheels ,Ship’s wheel,) ,Chinese revolving wheel tables to name just a few. The Retailer still buys then sells.

But, of course , it is not quite that simple. Since the early 1900’s retail (especially within the U.K. & the USA ) began to change dramatically. In 1901 Michael Marks and Tom Spencer started to roll out their first joint venture under the Marks and Spencer banner and consequently the beginning of the ubiquitous British Chain store . Between 1931 and 1939 Jack Cohen expanded from 1 store to 100. In 1903 John Sainsbury opened his first grocery store (the very first general store was opened 1869) by 1928 there were 128.

In the 1950’s the concept of the Supermarket started to emerge, followed by Superstores, Discount operators , Convenience Stores , Mail order catalogues, even Boot Sales and eventually through to Online Retailers. All these were evolutions that would change retailing, and in the view of some eventually kill the High Street, independents and market traders. There is,of course, an element of truth in that view. But it is not the whole picture . By 2020 there were still over 300,000 retail outlets employing 2.9 million people.

So, What now ? Oh yes, we have Amazon Shops ! And what the f…!(…=acebook) we are now going to get Facebook shops.

Meta, the social media company formerly known as Facebook, has discussed opening retail stores that will eventually span the world, said people with knowledge of the project and company documents viewed by The New York Times. The stores would be used to introduce people to devices made by the company’s Reality Labs division, such as virtual reality headsets and, eventually, augmented reality glasses, they said.

The New York Times Nov 2021

But that is not about the changing wheel. What I have seen since the pandemic (and it is particularly during the pandemic I have seen this emerge) is a new type of independent Retailer that is dragging the High Street into the 21st Century .

During the late 1990’s, early 2000’s the major brewers started to dominate the Pub Scene. The inevitable consequence was a constant consolidation in the number of pubs and beers. So was that the end of the local hostelry ? Not so, there are now nearly 2000 Micro breweries in the UK ,many with their imbibing outlets.

The total number of (gin) distilleries registered in the UK in 2020 grew to over 560 (at least 563)*, up from over 440 (at least 441) in 2019.


Street Food Stats: (Dunns Food & Drink Oct 2019

  • Over 6.6 MILLION posts on Instagram with the hashtag #STREETFOOD
  • Mexican is the 3rd most popular ethnic cuisine in the UK
  • Street Food is consumed by 2.5 BILLION worldwide each year
  • 71% of Generation Z like to try new dishes and flavours
  • The street food market is now worth an estimated £1.2 BILLION in the UK
  • 68% felt that street food introduced them to new flavours
  • £198 is spent on food and beverage by festival goers each year

Who would have believed this ten years ago……

There are now 14,727 physical shops in the UK which sell records, CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray, up almost 50% on last year, according to research by the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA).8 Mar 2016

This is a six year old figure but there are no suggestions to show that this has changed much.

UK vinyl sales have continued to climb in the UK despite the dramatic impact of COVID-19 on the music industry. 

New figures from the Entertainment Retailers Association – who manage Record Store Day in the UK – reveal that last month’s RSD ‘drop’ on August 29 saw vinyl sales rise 3% year on year with 2.7 million units sold so far in 2020. 

Rob Copsey Official Charts

Since the easing of various lockdowns, I have been able to restart visiting towns throughout the UK. There is change (retail) afoot. There is evidence of more individualised independent retailers of all types offering different product in a much more professional manner . Perhaps it is the Hipsterisation of many town centres eg Brixton, & Hackney in London, Salford in Manchester, The Quays in Liverpool ,Glasgow’s East End, and areas such as Handsworth in Birmingham. There is a new vibrant feel. As such, it does create a dichotomy. That is to say these changes are coming at the behest of the middle classes. The poorer areas of towns and cities are not going to attract the entrepreneurial retailer. And that is very clear from seeing some of these areas where there are loads of boarded up shops. Yet, there is always hope, as landlords will start looking at their rentals and encourage these entrepreneurs with much more competitive and attractive rates. I digress.

Over to Ari…..

Aristotle November 2021

Our ancestors invented the wheel and it remain unchanged for a long time. The opportunists saw other possibilities so the wheel went from this …….

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To this….

Formula 1 Steering Wheel

Retailing has gone from this …..

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To this….

Less Change, more Innovation