25 January 2023, 08:25 AM
  • Stefano Cuomo, CEO of Macknade, discusses fine food retail's role within the community and sets out his mantra for 2023
Stefano Cuomo, Macknade: “Community commerce”

I was trying to crowbar in lyrics from a favourite Guns & Roses track whilst writing this in November, looking forward to the New Year and January… but the rain feels as if it will last forever and, tragically for this season, it is not cold!

Crazy, mild world, in which we seem to be hitting a second spring… what will January bring?!

The Christmas season weaves its own indeterminable route, winding itself towards what does look like a promising outcome – why does it need to be so torturous, we are just here transacting, offering what is wonderful, beautifully made, giving folk what they want. It should be simpler, but we have all made this world so much harder, for all of us… and so the fear and jeopardy will always be there. I know no other way, yet I need to find one!

With that infinite goal of harmony – harmony between nature and humanity (something I cannot solve but I hope that, when I pass, I will have been part of dragging us a tiny step closer to) – the New Year is a cracking time to assess as to where I am on the trajectory towards it.

2022 has been a year like no other – Covid set a structure that highlighted the very best of Macknade, our team constantly looking out for the whole community, whether peers, suppliers or, of course, customers – but I have to hold up my hands and say I had not anticipated the insidious impacts of 2022: the coupled danger of explicit inflation and the hangover of Covid.

The economy looked set to blast out of 2021 and the lockdowns that had held us back, and so plans had been set to build on this. As we know, the reality was more complex!

The macabre joy of 2023 is that we have a clearer vision, albeit one that will severely chafe if not navigated effectively.

It will require that sense of harmony, firstly in our communities themselves, as we work through how we make our society as equitable as possible, growing thriving (thriving versus simply growing is an important conversation for another day!) businesses that support this, and, most importantly, the challenge of balancing the wonder of what we have created in our human society with the impact it has on our natural world.

The Xmas run-up has been a busy operational period, but equally it is the perfect planning time too, as we are able to focus on budgets and plans for the year ahead, and never has it been more important or indeed more exciting.

The challenge now set is not one of monetary ‘one-upmanship’, simply chasing growth targets.

Rather, it is being part of creating models that support the world around us, whilst delivering commercial value, all in a constrained economic landscape… what a challenge to aim for.

At Macknade we continually discuss the significance of our role within the community, whilst recognising we must express the importance of the business as a commercial entity, and that there does not need to be a diametric tension there.

This is not rapacious capitalism, rather true commercial integrity, and the challenge for comms has always been how to capture this in a ‘pithy catch-all’.

Community Commerce – a phrase we hope represents our aim to be here to support all those we interact with, yet does not shy away from the need to deliver profit, a profit that is there to support the business, and in turn the community that we speak so much about.

SMEs continue to be a critical conduit for real value exchange in our communities, and in 2023 getting this balance right will be crucial.

Our mantra for 2023 and the years ahead – Community Commerce – we will do everything to support our people through protecting our business; we will not shy away from the reality of needing to make profit to move forward… it will be the impact of what we do with it which will be how we are measured.