Tightening the belt

The Seaward Blog
Published:  28 May, 2015
Andy Seaward

In the past few weeks I have spoken to several brands and as you do, you casually ask "how's business?" the answer is usually along the lines of trade is tough but we are going OK. In a couple of cases they have added the phrase that really annoys me, it goes something like “well we are cutting back, tightening our belts, there is a freeze on recruitment, restrictions on travel” etc, etc.

Now having come from the corporate world I fully understand the need to control both recruitment and travel but at a time when business is tough (isn't it always?) why are these two items the first to be cut?

I always rather innocently thought that when business is tough or sales are not going well it may well be the time to actually do some recruitment to help freshen ranges or improve the management of the brand.

The same with travel when sales are not going well is that not the time to get out in the marketplace and find out the reasons why? To fully understand the market, check on new innovations, understand what the opposition is up to?

Also the inference is that these areas are not managed well normally, people are employed at the drop of a hat, or the approach to travel is something like, “well sales are going well let's all jet off to New York or some other such place to check out why we are doing so well, good hotel, nice restaurant and we can ‘do the shops’” ( I will do a further blog on what "doing the shops" really means to design teams! at a later date)

My experience is that neither scenario is the case, but for the brand to say "that we have a freeze on recruitment or travel restrictions are in place" is meant to be a signal to its employees that trade is not good, but actually people within the brand treat the statement with indifference, I used to find I would have more questions regarding the cost of a low cost airline flight within Europe than I did about ordering a million square feet of leather from a supplier!

Mission Statements

I read with interest and amusement Mike Redwood’s recent blog about Mission Statements, which I thought was a great read. I am sure there are many more areas that make corporate life the interesting, amusing and often baffling place it is. Just think of “bonding sessions, annual reviews, HR and IT protocols.”

Andy Seaward

Director, Seaward Material Solutions

andy@internationalleathermaker.com