Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Diageo: A Warning From History

Things I missed in the last few week’s while working late number one…

James Robertson was a grocer in Paisley, who in the 1860’s started to make marmalade and jams, particularly the “Golden Shred” brand of Marmalade. It is now more famous for adopting the “Gollywog” as a trademark in the 1920’s. However, in the 1970’s Robertson’s decided to leave their Paisley home in Stevenson Street.

Arguably it has never really been the same since they left Paisley, as other companies went past Robertson’s in the sales stakes. So much so that last year, Robertson’s owners announced that the Robertson’s brand would be discontinued.

So what are the lessons for Diageo, owners of Johnny Walker, who have announced their intention to pull out of Kilmarnock and Port Dundas, merging operations into their Shieldhall plant. It should be mentioned, since it appears absolutely nowhere on the BBC website, that Diageo made a profit of £1.63 billion last year. The main one would be not to turn your back on the people who make your product. I’m sure sales of Robertson’s dive-bombed in the wake of the move. I’m sure as well that other products who left Scotland in an acrimonious manner, have not recovered sales here. Timex springs readily to mind.

The other lesson would be to ensure that the quality of your product remains intact. Robertson’s Jam had apparently never been the same since they left Paisley. As I said earlier, other rivals took over. Notably Hartley’s, who Premier Food’s are going to concentrate their energies on. Scotland has more than Johnnie Walker, in terms of fine Whisky.

No-one has come out of this situation well, apart from the Diageo employees who continue to set the standard for dignity which our elected representatives failed to do… once again. The finger pointing and blame game, simmering away between the SNP and New Labour does no-one any good. Time to find your spine chaps.

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