Who knows what the outcome will be? I don’t. But you do, now.
I want to avoid the ‘reflect and predict’ scenario this month, and instead focus on a conference I went to in December: the supplier conference, hosted by Sainsbury’s at its Holborn offices.
One is normally mindful these get-togethers often result in a bunch of peacocks fluttering away, trying to out do one another. However, that was not the case. What a show.
Often these events can be mind-blowingly dull ways of attacking suppliers for more margin, more advertising, more focus on the retailers, rather than the competition. For small developing suppliers, they can be tedious and one-sided. This one was not.
Here is a business on the turnaround with some great new ideas which it is sharing with its suppliers in open court. No sense of paranoia, instead a confidence that what it is doing is working, and will go on doing so.
Here you find some bright young people running a multi-billion pound business with a really fresh approach to flogging food, and non-food. No mention of Whole Foods coming over, like the Vikings of today, to plunder and rape, more about what they are doing and what they want suppliers to do.
They are approachable as well – things really have changed. You could easily have had a one-to-one with any of the senior people there without encountering any barrier.
I did, and got a real buzz from it.
To be honest, I don’t normally have the guts to approach the great, as one tends to believe their greatness takes them to planets beyond the reach of a niche supplier – wrong.
The last act was the best. Three everyday, ordinary people who are winners in their own fields: one a dancer, the second a badminton player and lastly a nutritionist (all successful through sheer grit and determination) were split among the audience, whisked off and interviewed about their route to success.
The message that came across, like a big bang, was that whatever the discipline, the strategies for success are the same.
This was a brilliant piece of natural learning from some great achievers, all young and not unlike the Sainsbury’s senior management team of today. They were inspiring, a pleasure to listen to and learn from.
Sainsbury’s, please do not loose that pea in your whistle; it is really something you should be proud of. And, make sure you pass your ‘attitude’ down the line to the teams working for you.