Equestrian Blog

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Don’t let the Ba - d News Grind You Down!

Happy New Year! We’re all hearing how difficult a year 2009 will be for consumers and businesses alike and I have to say that we’re a little concerned about it all. We’re concerned that you may think we’re suffering from the ‘credit crunch’ like everyone else. In fact, this is year of optimism for us, especially as this year, we celebrate 25 years in Mail Order. That’s right. In 1984, we took the first steps into distance-selling, primarily to the once-a-year customers we’d meet at the many shows we were exhibiting at back then. Over that time, like most mail order companies, we’ve made plenty of mistakes – some of them horrendous. Importantly, we learned from our successes and failures and here we are, a quarter of a century later, still the largest in the country at what we do. I heard an interview this morning with Sir Stuart Rose, the Executive Chairman of Marks and Spencer – a man who always seems to say what I’m thinking and he was doing the usual PR that’s required when disappointing results are announced to the City. During the interview, he sought to reassure those concerned about the future of M&S. He said “We’ve been going for 125 years. We’re still here, we’re still breathing and we’ll be here tomorrow”. Once again, he’d said what I was thinking. That’s exactly how I would describe Robinsons. We’ll be here tomorrow – even if some of our competitors may not be. In uncertain times like these, that’s not a bad way to describe yourself. Then, another thought occurred to me. He’d said that M&S, arguably the most respected name on the High Street, are 125 years old this year – fully 17 years younger than us! I checked it out on the internet and it’s true! When the economy is buoyant, you wonder if anyone cares about the age and stability of the companies they deal with. In truth they probably don’t – and why should they? As customers, we are told we are the ‘King’, making all the choices in our own interest, concerned largely with price, quality, service and image. As a company who seeks your custom, we must treat you thus or bear the consequences of disappointing you. For many, that is the depth of the relationship and generally, we all accept that status quo. In financially darker times, particularly those with longer memories may perhaps give a little more thought to the credibility of those to whom they choose to give their money. Now it’s perhaps a little churlish to portray a company with a £9bn turnover like M&S as comparative ‘Johnny-come-lately’ types, so I won’t do that. What it does invite you to think, however, is that we’ve both lasted through recessions, depressions, World Wars and everything else that the 20th Century has inflicted on the world. Such heritage doesn’t give us any magical powers and it doesn’t guarantee that we’ll fare any better than anyone else – as we’ve seen with Woolworths recently. What I believe it does give us is the credibility to reassure the customer who is deciding where to buy the item they want. In Mail Order in particular, trust is a huge part of the decision-making process. We appreciate that you’re in effect paying for items that we’re promising to send to you at some point. If you’re fortunate to be young enough not to remember the last recession, please bear this in mind. It’s much easier to keep your promises in the good times. When things are not so good, the companies under the greatest pressure tend to be those who break their promises most. In this and other industries, be careful who you pay to keep their promises this year. I look forward to wishing you a Happy New Year in 2010. Believe me, that’s another promise we will keep…

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