Stefano Cuomo, Macknade: “Collaboration and partnerships”

27 February 2023, 07:10 AM
  • Stefano Cuomo, managing director at Macknade, shares his thoughts on what 2023 brings for the fine food industry with Speciality Food readers
Stefano Cuomo, Macknade: “Collaboration and partnerships”

And here it is, the new year… and we are through the early weeks of January, through the mythical Blue Monday, chums chomping at the bit for their first cup of ‘nectar’, folk finding out that vegetables taste good all year!

On a personal note, the birthday season conquered… family, friends, and neighbours… what happened nine months ago to create so many of us in these dark days – surely deep mid-winter is the worst time to have offspring (the mind boggles) – mad humans with no sense of seasonality?!

That said, February does bring that nudging sense of rebirth!

Where many fight through January, holding on to the hope of Spring, I love it. It shouts renewal, recalibration – the horizon of opportunity is crystal clear for a moment before the dropping fog of day-to-day life begins to dim it, as we roll through the weeks and months ahead… so grab that ‘horizon’ and don’t let it go!

With these new-year months, we have the opportunity to kick in the plans we have been dreaming of! Operationally it is quiet, less footfall, lots of cleaning, and repairing, but most of all let’s get planning and converting!

And this conversion is collective, it is seeing partnerships being built, collaborations, real intertwined collaborations, marching, hand in hand, towards shared goals.

As humans, what we do best when, well, when ‘bested’, when faced with great barriers, real or perceived, is retrench, dust down and look around, see our friends and families, gather, plan and then move boldly forward… together.

It is so important that we do not simply hunker down as tough times swirl, but that we find brave ways forward, that benefit us all, and this is always easier with friends!

Collaboration is the key word this year. Most of my conversations these past weeks have been based in collaborative thought and partnerships, recognising what strengths we as Macknade bring to the table, and what help we need from others.

Not settling for transactions, rather building on long-term relationships, talking to others to plan for the future, and focusing on collaborative strength to deliver outcomes that suit all parties’ objectives.

Sharing resources, giving short-term advantages away, to benefit from long-term stability – the relationships built up over years of trading are now really working hard, and other than showing that there is a positive horizon ahead of us, it is so much more emotionally satisfying collaborating with others who share our beliefs and so will share in our triumph.

I touched on this in my pre-Christmas considerations: underlining how important an engaged supply chain would be, sharing risk up and down itself to deliver benefit to all…and it is what happened – this past festive season has been the most collaborative and supported I have known.

It separated the partners we want to work hard for from the transactional acquaintances, the ‘nice to haves’, who are easily jettisoned as we recognise their self-focus and lack of collective ambition.

This has continued into 2023, as we all look to understand the pitfalls we may encounter and look to consolidate our activities, focusing on our core strengths, not so we retrench and stay there, but rather that we can rise and push forward again.

This consolidation to move forward has so much more opportunity by being delivered through present partnerships being strengthened, and other newly created associations, as we look for shared ethos and innovative thinking, not necessarily settling on similarity as a condition for collaboration, but perhaps differences, stemming from a shared belief, that will strengthen both parties.

2023 is the start of real platform change as we move through monikered years of ‘Brexit’, ‘Covid’, ‘Fossil Fuel Dependency’ to this new ‘platform’.

It will take time, but these new embedded, collaborative ways of working with true ‘resource partners’, born out of the necessity the pressures of these past years have brought, will be the basis for the collaborative world we will deliver. I for one am hugely excited, it is always so much more fun doing things together, after all you can’t have a community of one!

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