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“When things go wrong”

Just over 40 years ago on July 13th, during the summer of 1977, the whole of Manhattan Island and many parts of greater New York suffered an electrical blackout and were plunged into darkness. The cause was found to be a lightning strike on two separate power lines. I was actually in New York and always remember the expression that Consolidated Edison, the power supplier, used to describe the situation: “an act of God”. Scores of supermarkets and speciality food shops went without power for about 24 hours, and who knows how much food went to waste. Perhaps some shops never re-opened

“The rhyme of the ancient mariner”

As I have recently entered my seventh decade of existence on this planet (61 and a half years to be precise), I was interested to read the observations about the age of our main political party leaders. It has widely been reported that Britain is going to have its oldest group of party leaders in the House of Commons since 1955, with an average age (if Vince Cable is elected leader of the Lib Dems) of 67 years. This has been called by some the rise of the gerontocracy, which in turn got me thinking about food businesses and the average age of the people who run them

“Strange basketfellows”

Week ending 10th June 2017 – what a week that was! England winning a football World Cup for the first time in 51 years. I never thought I would live to see that. Then there was the small matter of a Hung Parliament, too. And with it the thought that we might be in for, if not a coalition, looser partnerships all round with some strange bedfellows involved. The last time there was a coalition, a mere seven years ago, it inspired us into thinking about what products actually work with each other on the shop floor and become basketfellows at the checkouts

“Trump slump or May sway?”

"Here we go round the mulberry bush” one customer said on hearing the news of a General Election in June this year

“Never trust an expert”

On a recent trip to Scotland I read an old adage that I do not recall hearing before: “A grain of truth does not make a loaf of success”. This reminded me of why it is always a daunting task to either give advice or indeed take it

“The Easter enigma”

What’s It all About Easter? (to the tune of What’s It All About Alfie? Sung of course by Cilla Black) often springs to mind at this time of year

“The results are in”

I am pleased to report that Christmas 2016 proved to be our busiest Christmas yet. For the 24 days of December up to Christmas Day itself, we were 5.7% up on 2016. For the entire month of December 2016 our sales rose by 6% on the previous year. Our previous best year was 2015 which we increased by 4.5%

“Reasons to be cheerful”

As I write this halfway through November 2016, the very thought of the past year causes a sharp intake of breath. The Brexit uncertainty, the American election, declining sales and a fainting pound scarcely bring a smile to the face unless you happen to be looking out of the windows of the Kremlin, I have heard. Then what about 2017? Article 50? President Trump? Our staff?

“Six things I learned this year”

We are now just about to enter our 45th year at Partridges. So much has been learned along the way and (dare I say it) quite a lot forgotten. However, in every year that passes there is, it seems, an increasing barrage of information attacking us from all directions, which becomes very hard to process let alone remember. So I thought that, as the year draws to a close, I would share various bits of unusual information that have managed to connect with my memory bank during the last 12 months. Here goes:

“What are the Brexit brands?”

“What’s so good about summer?”

For all my working life in speciality food, we have yearned for the balmy, sunshine days of summer when customers seem in a happier frame of mind and have the delightful tendency to spend a little more money in a short space of time prompted by the lure of the al fresco lifestyle

“Brexit or Breginning?”

To be uncertain is to be uncomfortable. So runs half a Chinese proverb. As a retailer I can readily agree with that

“The Royal Connection”

I am writing this article on April 21st – H.M. the Queen’s 90th Birthday – and very many happy returns are in order. This is not, of course, Her Majesty’s official birthday, which falls on June 12th, but the actual day on which she was born. Between those two dates in April and June there are a lot of opportunities for speciality food shops to hold activities that celebrate this auspicious occasion and prove popular with customers

 
200 Years of Billington’s Gingerbread

200 Years of Billington’s Gingerbread

Currently celebrating a successful relaunch as part of its bicentennial year, Billington’s Gingerbread…

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