Sunday Independent Stupid Statement of the Week August 4, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Sunday Independent Stupid Statement of the Week.
Apologies, due to technical issues some problems this week with the SISSOTW. Not so much a stupid statement today as a couple of interesting none too concealed messages from one E. Harris to… well…read on in this lovely paean to local enterprise and ‘the still boyish John Field who, for over 40 years, has run the famous Field’s of Skibbereen.’… (though note in passing an oddly discordant, given the provenance, point about competition…)
John Field is a legend in the retail sector. This is the second toughest business in town – only marginally less competitive than the newspaper trade, currently under pressure from the internet. Both sectors have seen three revolutions in 30 years.
But neither the newspaper business nor the grocery business can be learnt from college lectures. Running a newspaper, or a big grocery store, requires a longish hands-on apprenticeship with a master.
Field found himself in the middle of the group-purchasing revolution. Contrary to consultant-spoof, most people hate change. He had to figure out how to modernise the Field brand without making waves that would alienate staff and frighten off conservative customers.
John Field does not believe in brutal clear-outs.
Some of this superb training is done by John Field’s managers. But mostly it’s done by himself. Not at seminars, but by personal example. Like the late Aengus Fanning, he is loath to sit in an office, directing the battle by delegation.
Well I never.
Today, Field’s faces another ferocious challenge. Aldi will soon become the seventh supermarket in Skibbereen. The council talks about 14 new jobs. They don’t tell us whether that’s worth putting Field’s 150 jobs in danger.
Like the Sunday Independent, Field’s of Skibbereen is an icon of middle Ireland, successfully walking the tightrope between a popular product and a quality product. Both have competitors who think that there is some secret elixir of success than can be copied cheaply.
But John Field’s story, like that of the Sunday Independent, shows the elixir is more elusive. You need a superb staff, with a strong sense of ownership, closely in touch with their country, who believe they are not just selling a newspaper or a can of beans, but creating a loyal constituency. Copy that if you can.
What is he trying to get at?