CSG: Christmas Jumpers ‘Pull-over’ £160 for Charities

Posted on www.csg.co.uk/blog on December 18th 2017

https://www.csg.co.uk/blog/christmas-jumpers-pull-over-160-for-charities

We like a good fancy-dress-related fundraising effort at CSG and this Christmas is no different. In fact, we’re so keen to don the festive knitwear, we’re helping two Christmas charities, this year!

Today, our staff in various departments and depots have been wearing Christmas jumpers to raise money for Wave 105.2FM’s ‘Mission Christmas: Cash For Kids’ appeal, as well as Save the Children’s annual Christmas Jumper Day.

All in, we’ve raised over £160, which will be split between the two great causes. Thanks, as ever, go to our wonderfully caring team who keep turning up in all manner of costumes throughout the year – and donate to show their support for a number of very worthy initiatives.

Here’s a brief run-down of the year’s other charity and community efforts:

  • In January, CSG donated £1,000 to contribute to a fund for a statue to commemorate the efforts of Tom Dresser VC, a hundred years after one of Middlesbrough’s most distinguished sons was awarded the Army’s highest honour.
  • In February, we marked Valentine’s Day with a cake bake and a ‘wear something red’ day, in aid of the British Heart Foundation.
  • In March, there was flower power and shell-suits aplenty – and more besides – at our Cadishead site as the team there dressed from the decade they were born in, to support Comic Relief’s Red Nose Day.
  • In June, we were proud to pledge £500 to sponsor our own Cheryl West as she cycled from London to Paris, in memory of her friend, Angela Sharples.
  • Every day, the staff and visitors signing in to our Cadishead site have the option to buy sweets and soft drinks from Phil Jones in the weighbridge office, something that contributes hundreds of pounds a year to the British Heart Foundation, amongst other charities.
  • We currently sponsor three junior sports teams: Woolston Rovers Raiders U-8s, Cadishead U-8s and Grangetown Boys’ Club Academy U-10s in the North East.
  • Through our Landfill Tax initiative, we were also pleased to contribute £20,000 to the River Bourne Community Farm in Salisbury, Wiltshire – a sum which has helped them to build a new café, allowing for a warmer, more comfortable environment in which they can raise more funds for their own cause.

Corporate Social Responsibility has always been an important issue at CSG and, after so much effort supporting so many deserving causes in 2017, you can be sure that we’ll keep up the good work in 2018.

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ETN: Evolution – Thumbs Up or Down?

The greatest misconception of evolution is that it adheres to a plan. We largely believe that opposable thumbs occurred because they were a good idea. It’s hogwash: it was actually via a series of accidents and mutations over countless generations that they ever existed. The fact they then proved to be advantageous kept them in the gene pool while countless other, less successful, thumb configurations were forgotten. Generally, because the timescales and variations involved are difficult to conceive, we prefer to employ the notion that evolution is a pre-ordained process as a kind of metaphor – and then forget it’s a metaphor and start using the term “designed”.

The same is true of anything that can be said to have evolved – and it’s largely the way a supply chain works. We may think we’ve designed it, rationally and earnestly but in reality, we’ve only really done more of the things that gave a good return and less of the things that threatened our existence.

T Rex
“I’ll threaten your existence if you think all primitive life is ill-adapted” Photo: Paul Bentham

It always used to fascinate me how many pairs of hands a product went through from factory floor to the consumer’s door, each adding a layer of margin but reducing affordability and competitiveness along the way. Each (opposable) thumb in the pie claims to “add value” but is that always the case or is there a lot of money for old rope being paid? And, according to the ‘law of the jungle’, for how long will that remain to be the case?

Here’s my basic summary of the traditional supply chain:

  • Manufacturer: Owns factory, makes stuff. Production requires that volumes are huge. Often more obsessed with improving the product than finding a route to market for it. Historically tended to be the ‘brand owner’.
  • Wholesaler: Owns warehouse, professional ‘go-between’. Sees promising products and buys in bulk, to offer to a roster of retailers. Justifies ‘middleman’ cut by offering exclusivity and/or continuity of supply by investing in large quantities, stocking it “so the retailer doesn’t have to”.
  • Retailer: Owns shop, cultivates goodwill with local clientele. Needs broad range of competitively-priced items that local clientele demands/will tolerate. Accepts Wholesaler’s higher price for small-volume supply flexibility with implicit promise that no-one else uses their lower cost prices to engage directly with ‘their’ end user.

Yes, the landscape has become complicated over time, with the addition of Distributors, Agents, Buying Co-operatives, Marketplaces, Franchisees and Affiliates (did I forget anyone?) but still, you can’t make stuff economically without great depth of units and you can’t be the place to go shopping for very long without a great breadth of range. The Wholesaler always was – and usually still is – the solution to this Depth-to-Breadth conundrum, explaining why there are three or four lots of profit margin on the same item between creation and consumption.

Here comes the “but”: …but the supply chain as we recognise it today is not a product of immutable parameters. It merely evolved as an adaptation to limitations on communications and the logistical solution to production in great depth and re-selling in great breadth.

There have always been temptations to miss someone out and pocket their margin as well as your own. Retailers have been at it for years, doing supply deals with manufacturers when MOQs allow, much to the chagrin of Wholesalers. Then again, Wholesalers haven’t always played a straight bat, occasionally offering price reductions they wouldn’t tolerate of their stockists or (gasp) “going direct”. As in the evolution of life itself, much of the last epoch has seen one type of life-form or another attempting to assert its dominance over the whole ecosystem.

Evolutionary theory also warns us to expect, eventually, an extinction event, an inevitable occurrence that becomes a game-changer. It’s believed the Chicxulub asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous period (thus creating opportunity for the dominance of mammals) and it’s worth considering what the next asteroid-scale event might look like. Having scanned the skies, I wonder if I might have found it. It’s a bit scary and Retailers in particular may wish to make sure they’re sitting down at this point.

Some American retail analysts now predict a quarter of all consumer ‘retail’ spend will take place online within six years (perhaps 30% in the UK) in an online space that will be 40% controlled by the combined might of Amazon, eBay and Alibaba. In addition to current trends, the growing ‘internet of things’ (if that’s a new phrase to you, Google it!) will offer a multitude of self-ordered replacement items with shoppers merely ‘signing off’ auto-suggested purchases rather than actively shopping.

Better, cheaper communications (social media, email, apps, digital ads) have strengthened direct engagement for all; the part of the equation that was traditionally the brands’ biggest weakness – plus the virtual nature of shopping means that breadth of offering isn’t as vital as it always was. With the gloves off and everyone approaching the punter, the brands can now circumvent the distribution network and communicate their message to the end user without the distortive prism of stockists and distributors. Brands may already fulfill orders directly to their “customer” so they’re increasingly less reliant on the old-fashioned retailer for shifting the units. There’s even a belief that surviving retail stores in future won’t be places to physically procure products any more but to simply ‘experience the brand’. 4.6 million people work in retail in the US and their long-term career advice is to find another sector before they’re replaced by Amazon-style automated stores.

If you’re frantically clutching your chest at this point, it may help to point out that we’re not in the most cutting-edge of industries – and that’s probably a good thing. Remember, sixty million years ago, while 75% of the planet’s fauna was being wiped out, only the most durable species, able to live on the most meagre of diets (notably, sharks and crocodiles) survived – and continue to thrive today. The ability of the equestrian industry to make a living in an environment most others would regard as infertile may yet see it outlive the real dinosaurs of mainstream retail.

 

 

 

CSG: All in Another Good Cause

Posted on www.csg.co.uk/blog on December 16th 2016

http://www.csg.co.uk/blog/all-in-another-good-cause/

Fresh from their recent Children in Need contributions, CSG’s Sales team went one further, today by supporting Save The Children’s ‘Christmas Jumper Day’. Together, they raised £160.00 – just by wearing their favourite festive knitwear to work. What a great effort!

It’s one of a number of ways that CSG are happy to lend support to a wide range of charitable causes. Like many other workplaces, we’re keen to embrace fundraising activities for Comic Relief, Sport Relief, Children in Need, MacMillan Cancer Support and many others on their special fundraising days throughout the year. This is all in addition to our own ethos of Corporate Social Responsibility, which has seen us involved with a number of causes that perhaps don’t hit the headlines as much.

In 2017 we will be looking forward to getting involved in more charitable efforts and doing as much as we can to help the less fortunate.

CSG: iTea and Biscuits

Posted on www.csg.co.uk/blog on November 8th 2016

http://www.csg.co.uk/blog/itea-and-biscuits/

As you’ll know if you’re reading this blog, waste matters but at CSG, we also know that so do a few other things, such as being a good neighbour – which has led to yet another example of our commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility.

We were delighted to be involved with an initiative local to our Cadishead site, in which local residents were given the opportunity to get to grips with IT and its many uses. It’s a wonderful idea and it has an equally wonderful name – iTea and Biscuits.

Designed for all ages and abilities, it aims to give people the skills and the confidence to go online, use catch-up TV sites, operate smart devices, exchange email, shop online and much, much more. It’s easy to think of such things as universally available but for a number of people without the most basic IT knowledge to ‘unlock’ the internet, the world can start to become a startlingly unfriendly place. Thankfully, this weekly course, run by the Hamilton Davies Trust is there to change all that and improve the lives of all who attend.

We supplied 3 members of the Cadishead team (Louise Holgate, Peter Chiodo and Sam Bate) to offer their own IT knowledge and experience to the residents on the course – some as old as 90 – which was a task they found to be extremely fulfilling.

It’s a perfect example of how, simply by providing information and a little moral support, we can offer significant benefits to our neighbours in the communities in which we operate.