Before all else I'd like to offer my warmest congratulations to all of our winners, both Silver and Gold, at last Thursday's Britain's Best Retailer Awards. As ever, it was an amazing night, with great company, food, entertainment...and wine!
It wouldn't be possible to stage this event every year without our sponsors, so I'd like to extend my personal thanks to them as well for all the support they've given us this year in helping to make this one of the highlights of the industry calendar.
One of the greatest pleasures of the awards, aside from rewarding excellence, is seeing the entire industry come together. And I don't just mean in terms of retailers and suppliers in the same room. The awards cover hardware, housewares, DIY and garden retailers, from the biggest multiples, to the smallest independents.
It means that, on the night, we had the nationals, such as B&Q, Homebase, Focus, Wilkinson and Lakeland, rubbing shoulders with independents from across the UK and from across the sectors - making for some pretty interesting conversations is the bar afterwards.
One such exchange took place between two independent retailers. One sells hand tools and power tools, the other sells kitchenware. In the normal course of events, their paths would probably never cross. Yet they had a huge amount in common: they are both privately-owned businesses, they are both specialists, they both pride themselves on the breadth and depth of their range, they both make a big thing of the product knowledge and expertise their staff can offer, and they both regard the national multiples as the enemy. And, of course, there is no way in which they are competitors - not geographically, not in terms of product.
Could it be of benefit to them to spend a bit more time together and learn a bit more about each other's businesses? Almost certainly. Is there any reason why they shouldn't share information, experiences and opinions? Almost certainly not. In short: could they make two and two add up to five? Definitely.
This isn't just idealistic, theoretical thinking. At the awards this year were two guys chatting in the bar (no this isn't a joke!), one a Gold winner this year, one a previous Gold winner. They first met at a BBRA dinner a few years ago, got on well together, and have built a productive business relationship and friendship. They share information, offer advice, brainstorm each other's challenges, pool their knowledge. In short, they actually do make two and two add up to five, making sure they stay ahead of the game and remain among Britain's Best!
17 November 2010 | 13:44 |