Head of Oddbins plays the field

24 April, 2009

It was good to see Tim Atkin’s article in this week’s OLN (M&S fields the best formation, OLN April 10) and I liked the metaphor. It certainly does paint a picture rather well. It is always good to get feedback on how people view us and the choices we present to our staff and customers. However, I would like to carry the metaphor on a bit and explain? what we are trying to achieve? and the steps we are taking to get to our ultimate goal.

There is no doubt the standards of the Premiership are high and that we have one of the best leagues there is. In order for us to win the title we have to select the best players, implement the right training and diet for the players, chose the right tactics, shout loudly enough on the touchline and sometimes trust in Lady Luck. Newcastle is an apt comparison as it has passionate fans and has had some managers who have not been able to get the team to play.

One has to understand that this team had a shoddy defence, leaking too many goals, and we needed to make a lot of changes in a very short space of time. I?t is hard to progress from a negative 50 goal difference to a positive 50 difference in a short space of time. This team was also not scoring many goals? and, just like listing superlative wines, it takes time for the strikers to gain confidence in front of the goal and for the midfield to pick out the right pass.

There is no doubt in my mind that we have already achieved greater consistency in our day-to-day performance and that the fans like the new players we have brought in. Speak to the back?-room staff and they will, I am sure, concur. We have some new strikers coming in from New Zealand soon and they will give greater fire power up front. Like Arsčne Wenger, I have great confidence in my team’s ability, but understand that we need to bring more players in and gradually improve performance over time.

The intention is to become the best team? by far, but we are under no illusions as to how hard this may be. There are some strong teams to play against. But we know what our fans expect and will constantly look for players that will deliver the kind of football they want to see played.

Alan Shearer?(AKA Oddbins managing director Simon Baile)?? At your bidding …Here we go again! I noted the Asda “new” blind online auction reported in OLN (?April 10) and feel driven to write to you. Online auctions are, of course, not new and have been undertaken by many retailers over the years with varying rates of success – indeed my old company [Sainsbury’s?] was one of the first to introduce them in the 1990s?.

No doubt ideal for carrier bags, lorry tyres and computers, but I do reserve judgement on foods fresh and non-perishable, and wines in particular where the balance of quality and value for money is so vital, as well as supplier relationships and that oft unused word in these first years of the 21st century – partnership.

In my most humble opinion the online auction is nothing but a cop-out for weak buyers and indicates that the buying office concerned has no rapport with the supply base, and indeed doesn’t seek one – working to hide behind the impersonal push of a computer button where bully?-boy tactics are not exposed. I suppose there is always a supplier with a vat of old stock or a looming cash?-flow problem who will agree to this highly unsatisfactory method of negotiation, but again in my experience it is amazing how many “successful” online bids are followed up with a bankrupt supplier and/or poor quality on the shelves as they seek to fulfil their online promise.

I suppose that good old?-fashioned English word “no” might now be in the vocabulary of the embattled UK wine supply base??Allan Cheesman?London W4??

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English wine: a happy harvest for Christmas

All across England and Wales, vineyards are being harvested. Down winding country lanes come armies of welly-wearing conscripts wielding secateurs and buckets, ready to reap the rewards of our vines. Happily they come, their cheeks ruddy with pride. Half an hour later they’re crawling over muddy clods with lacerated hands, drenched in claggy juice and cold sweat, as if ploughing through an endurance race.

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