I read with interest this week how Greggs, the UK’s largest bakery chain, has reported a drop in profits in the first half, and was blaming wet weather for a fall in like-for-like sales. The company’s pre-tax profit for the six months to the end of June was £16.5m, down from the £17.3m posted a year earlier. Revenue was up almost 5% at £350m. They warned of “challenging” trading for the rest of the year.
I clearly recall in one of the meetings by the management team of a company I owned the list of excuses as to why sales and profits were down. Last on the list was the weather. I am sorry, but this does not hold court with me! We have been suffering changes in the weather for as long as I have been in business which is more years than I would care to relay. Where’s the plan? Where’s the marketing strategy and where’s the product development? The BBC reports that the company was unable to capitalise on publicity surrounding the government’s proposed “pasty tax”, which was subsequently dropped. Greggs had successfully lobbied hard against the move and should be congratulated, but to rely on this as a marketing strategy could be considered somewhat suspect.
This is unquestionably the most economically challenging period most of us can remember and we not only need a plan ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ – I suggest we need several more to ensure that the businesses we have built and cherish survive and prosper. As leaders of key businesses it is more important now than ever before that we provide clear direction, a vision which allows for creativity and innovation and the important challenge which, I would suggest, does not look to blame poor performance on the ups and downs of the meteorological forecast!