In retail today we take many things for granted and forget someone had to invent them. Machine-readable barcodes – the basis of stock control and EPOS – were the brainchild of Alan Haberman in the 1970’s but 40 years before then the late Sylvan Goldman, owner of ‘Humpty Dumpty’ grocery stores in Oklahoma invented the ‘greatest ever development in the history of merchandising’ – the shopping trolley.
Buying companies as a going concern is fun. Sometimes. Despite purchasers’ best efforts when sniffing around accounts, staff contracts, order book, supply contracts and other ‘due diligence’ they inevitably spend a couple of years digging up buried bodies:‘Oh sorry, didn’t you know the HQ is built over an old mineshaft?
Consider the UK’s High Streets. Hard on the heels of House of Fraser’s announcement of dozens of closures and the rumours about Debenhams you could almost forget how long they’ve been a bad news story. It was back in 2012 the penny finally dropped they were in trouble and it couldn’t be blamed on the 2008 banking collapse or the previous Labour government.
Epsom Ladies day, 1st June was extra scary this year. The usual scrummage of hats and high heels at the bars turned nasty when the Visa credit card system crashed. A lot of ladies were less than impressed and bar staff had to be rescued by security.
In Lewis Carroll’s ‘Through the Looking-Glass’ Alice takes part in a race with the Red Queen only to discover that despite running constantly she remains in the same place. The Red Queen is not sympathetic: ‘A slow sort of country!’ says the Queen. ‘Here you see it takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast!”
If you are an ambitious business promoting itself on the internet then you need to know about the General Data Protection Regulation which comes into effect on 25thMay. The Customer database you are building is subject to the regs., especially if you ‘process’ the information e.g. categorise Customers so you can target them with special offers.
Jonathan Owen discusses VAT charged on Open Markets, Street Traders and Carbooters and problems facing bike share providers
The Panama Papers, squirming politicians, Sainsbury’s acquisition of Argos, taking your dog to work and the supermarket and Storm Gertrude. Jonathan Owen’s monthly round-up of the news is here.
Jonathan Owen discusses controversial government cuts, sugary drink consumption and restrictions on Sunday trading