Big fish little pond or small fish big pond?

Defining your local place is never easy especially when you come to setting a border where everything beyond is not local…. Think about the political boundaries that already exist from parish to local councils to counties to countries. All these political boundaries have an impact on your place. To fix the impact of these areas our politicians simply invent new areas our city fish (Carlisle) will see impacts from the new ‘ponds’ created from BREXIT to devolution to the LEPs to Northern Powerhouse to Borderlands and I am sure yours will be the same.

All these areas seek to redefine the pond in which our city fish swim, in some cases we (Carlisle) are bigger than one pond (parish councils) in others we are still a relatively large fish (Borderlands) and in others we start to feel like minnows (Northern Powerhouse).

The question I think we all need to ask ourselves is “do we treat the smaller fish in our pond in a way that we would want the larger fish to treat us?”. At one end of the ‘pond spectrum’ is the totally equitable approach to place management where every fish gets the same share of the collective food bank. At the other end is the idea that the pond needs to feed the big fish so that it can protect the smaller fish from any large fish from neighbouring ponds. Do you feel yourself moving towards the equitable argument when your in a really large pond and towards the support the big fish argument when you’re in a small pond?

I know it’s more complicated than that. Projects aimed at social change are arguably better based as close to the end user as possible so for instance, drop in centres and community spaces all need to be spread across the pond. Whilst funded capital projects concentrated on one or two projects could arguably create anchors that would attract either visitors or employers to an area. This was certainly the argument back in the day of anchor stores for high streets or anchor multinational firms for industry strategy , times are changing as I heard at a meeting recently “ one large factory does not a local economy make” and the prospect of House of Fraser leaving our High Street demonstrates the lack of control your local area has over national retail chains. Having said that, focused action that is directly linked to your local area can have huge impact on your place, from May-July we were fortunate enough to host the ‘weeping window’ poppy display that poured over our castle keep and this has definitely increased the number of visitors to our area. The display originally set up at the Tower of London has toured the country for the last four years and Carlisle Castles connection as a recruitment base during the First World War meant we were fortunate enough to be one of the hosts for this magnificent thought provoking display.

As we all negotiate our share of the pond perhaps we should reflect the reason for the poppy display. The display in Carlisle is there because of the 23,000 recruits who passed through the castle during the First World War, 7,000 paid the ultimate sacrifice and died defending their pond. When those running the pond get it wrong, it’s often the fish that pay the price.

So the next time you feel like a fish in a pond , ask yourself :are you allowing enough of a share for your smaller neighbours and are you also supporting your bigger neighbours as they stand up for your pond.

 


The Rise of Provenance


The rise in consumer interest in the provenance of their food driven by food scares and a desire to understand what we are feeding our children is possibly going to become more polarised into ‘cost conscious’ and ‘food conscious’ consumers. The rise of retail mergers may mean ‘provenance’ becomes a key point of difference for certain retailers.

Retail is changing, Sainsbury and ASDA merging is part of a major shake up in food retail similar to that of the UKs retail banking industry back in the 70s and 80s . The large retail multiples only tend to merge when they run out of ideas to grow their market share organically.

The merging of the banks led to the disappearance of many high street names…first in the banks like Midland, Coutts, Williams & Glyns and later the disappearance of many Building Society Names through to Bradford & Bingley. It was not all closures…there was the appearance of new international players like HSBC and Santander and new startups like Virgin and online solutions …First Direct.

The merger of Sainsbury and ASDA may in some part be to new alliances of other food retailers, specifically Tesco’s merger with Booker which effectively brings many local high street names under one banner (One Stop, Budgens, Londis , Family Shopper and Premier will all be supplied by the new group); the Coops takeover of NISA brings the Costcutter and NISA brand into the Coops supply chain and Morrisons developing relationship with Amazon.

Large mergers are generally made to cut costs which usually means simplifying the supply chain. The discounters (Aldi and Lidl) simplify the chain by limiting choice this allows them to support provenance at a national level (allowing Lidl to promote Scottish Food), Tesco has tended to simplify its supply chain by cutting suppliers and reducing opportunities to celebrate provenance. Morrisons and the Coop both celebrate provenance at a local and regional level using this as a key point of difference.

It will be interesting to see where the focus of the new Sainsbury/ASDA group lies (reduction in suppliers or focus on regional/local provenance). The choice may well depend on the focus of us as consumers and interestingly last month saw the launch of Happerley an organisation focused on promoting genuine food provenance. If you have a genuine desire to see the growth of your local food industry we would suggest you check Happerley out, it was officially launched at the Farm Shop & Deli Show in April with support from amongst others Adam Henson (BBC Countryfile) Peter Jinman (Head of DEFRA Animal Welfare) & Philip Pononby (CEO Mid-Counties Co-operative) and if this works it has the chance to change the attitude of the food supply chain in the UK for ever.

Food provenance should not just be about supporting trendy/exclusive local food it should be about creating a genuine food supply for all that is focused on its area and genuinely supports a local/regional taste for our local high street food offering.

First published in Place Magazine for Revive and Thrive

if you want to talk food contact us at hello@thomasjardineandco.co.uk


Borderlands Conference

 

 

This is a brief summary of our take out from the Borderlands Conference held in Dumfries on the 18th June. The summary is mainly made up as a collage of comments from speakers, facilitators, businesses, local councillors (from Carlisle, Cumbria, Dumfries& Galloway, Northumberland and Scottish Borders), politicians and public sector officers. We have deliberately not attributed any of the comments as this is about the Borderlands Collective Voice…

Please let us know if you think we captured the day ….comments

Background

Set up to bid for national funds and distribute these funds across the Borderlands area into capital projects.  These should “encourage sustainable growth for the benefit of business and the local community”.

This should be a “transformative project” , “driving inclusive growth”…..”looking for the ‘big ticket idea’”…”this has included talking to 26 local towns”

So we need to know “what needs to happen and how are we going to do it?”

Which leads to three key questions :

Intent?

“Aims are connectivity, growth of sectors (tourism, farming and energy) and deal with population decline (especially in the youth).  Do this by collecting the perspectives of local people and businesses.” This will allow us to realise the potential we have.

“The UK economy is currently unbalanced and Borderlands is the opportunity to rebalance it”

Ingredients?

““Once in a generation” opportunity for change” .  As mentioned on the day “businesses who don’t shout don’t get” and “we (public sector) must put up or shut up”.  A desire to create a “system that removes barriers to growth” and then “encourage distributive transformation”.

The main ingredients we have to use are our “natural and social assets held in the area.”

Pragmatic solutions?

Need to “move away from the top down view of regional support where funding money creates regional growth”.  Because “one big tyre factory does not an economy make”

“Try not to focus solely on the traditional sectors connected with rural areas (tourism, farming and energy)”.  Remember that nowadays there is a “huge amount of crossover in sectors” . So for example   “Food is absolutely a key” because in this region it moves from production to wholesale to retail to hospitality and marketing and covers all business size and ambition.  Another sector with cross cutting themes would be cycling that straddles the border from the Lakes to the 7 Stanes and all the road routes in the region.

Borderlands will be “the first area focused development solution as opposed to a city focused solution.” This means “positivity is key” and the work in Borderlands should “influence a fundamental national review of the planning regime” and “legislation must support the changing needs of communities”.

So Borderlands will “work with businesses that are willing to look outside of the box” “to develop solutions for todays non urban communities”. Uniquely this will mean working in “two regions linked to each other through common history that over time has formed stronger bonds across the border than to their respective national governments.”

Borderlands should use the “capital funding to support economically sustainable projects that look to the future and these will work if they are built around collaborative partnerships with a focus on the long term”. This will be a “10-20 year project to change Borderlands, the challenge is to have the ambition set and not led by short term political aims, it is down to each of us not to let this happen.”

What will good look like?

The hope is that in 20 years time Borderlands will have delivered “pride in place”, “equitable skills” “measurable social and economic gains” and “allowed us all to have input into the area”

 

 


Well if that was January, 2018 is going to be REAL exciting!

The place in which we live is always changing and with it brings new and exciting opportunities.

A view from Blencathra courtesy of Jackrabbit 

We want to collaborate with as many people as possible to help make our place even better and this January just highlights the great teams that are willing to be involved.  This is both in creating a new Guild building for co-workers in Carlisle and building our company Thomas Jardine & Co that looks to support our great family businesses and food businesses.

 

So, late last year we bought the old Guild building on Abbey Street and we were fortunate enough to be introduced to Les Harding by Chris and Malcolm from Black Box Architects.  Les is a miracle worker and his network is helping us breathe new life into the Guild.  In the Guild we were also lucky enough to have a chance conversation with Ben from A.B.Energy who is now covering all our heating and electrical needs.  The build is taking shape and we are hoping to have it ready for a soft launch at the end of March…watch this space.

Through Thomas Jardine and Co we have been fortunate enough to have serious conversations with a number of large and small food producers, listening to their plans and helping them focus on the future they want to see.  This has led to a number of new entries on our food map and the creation of a calendar that highlights key events for foodies both in the area and nationally.  We have also submitted written evidence on the importance of the cross-border food sector to the Scottish Parliaments Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee, as well as conducting our own survey of local food producers’ confidence for 2018.

We are working with Lancaster University to help deliver their Productivity through People Project and are also looking at a joint project with them in Donegal…more on this next month.

Jacqui is also on the judging panel for the Cumbrian Family Business Awards and is working with Sue Howorth (Family Business Network) and Armstrong Watson & Co on their ‘Let’s talk About it” family business series.  Sue and Jacqui are also working on a new family business project that could be really exciting.

Jacqui recently attended a Cumbria LEP meeting in behalf of the NW Institute of Directors and just before Christmas attended a review of research into Family Business, with Prof Carole Howorth from the University of York and Michael Bibby of Bibbys.

Busyish month with lots of catching up with old friends and starting up relationships with new businesses…this is a wonderful place to do business, let’s make it even better.

If you have an interest in Food, Family Business, Co-working and Place do get in touch at hello@thomasjardineandco.co.uk and/or follow us on Twitter @thomasjardineco


What will 2018 bring you and your place? What can we do about it?

Every change is both an opportunity and a threat…it’s up to each place how we deal with change…here are four possibilities to ponder…
We are still part of a United Kingdom but no longer part of a united Europe.  Does this mean places across the UK will become more insular with neighbouring towns high streets competing for each other footfall or will regional towns collaborate to promote their place in order to attract more visitors to the areas collective high streets?

Will Brexit empty our high street of EU workers or will our high street service providers adapt their business model to match whatever falls out of the Brexit agreement?

Will the pound fall and attract more foreign tourists to our high street or will the pound fall and reduce consumer spending on our high street?

With the coming of high speed rail links, will the rest of the UK start planning to become a commuter belt for London or will all of the London entrepreneurs relocate and only visit the capital when absolutely necessary?

I hope that you agree that as leaders of place you can only change what you can the rest falls into the ‘out of your control’ or ‘what will be will be’ box.

So as individuals we probably can’t effect Brexit or devolution but we can help strengthen the offer of our place by either focusing on our town/city or on our surrounding cluster of
towns/cities…the choice there is yours.

We probably can’t effect general migration movements in and out of the UK but we can support the local networks that create new business models suited to our place.

We can’t effect the value of the pound but we can support our own high street with our own spending habits …if we don’t spend in our own place then the businesses (large or small) there won’t survive…again the choice is ours.

New businesses set up in areas that most match their needs which include been close to market (physical or online), suitable staff, premises, connectivity and quality of life. If your place can create the right offer, then it will attract new business.

Whatever we choose to do will make a difference. Individually, we can only really change our own place BUT if we all do that then we will change the whole country. Here’s to 2018.

(Previously published in Revive and Thrive Place Magazine Issue 19)


A City Network, Food and Drink Producers, Family Business, Entrepreneurs and Place…one example

The wonderful Shepherds Inn (possibly offering us the best beef in a sandwich at a business lunch ever) in Carlisle, hosted the most recent Carlisle Ambassadors event this time it showcased food in and around the City.

Bruce and Luke’s Handcrafted Coffee in conversation with Armstrong Watson

Speakers as diverse as Grasmere Gingerbread; Peter Sidwell; The Taste Magazine from CN Group; the Northwest Hospitality Show and Carlisle City Council all offered a flavour of how the food sector both impacts and relies on the area in which it is based.

Around the room we had displays from some of our great Food and Drink producers from relatively new businesses such as the Carlisle Living Award winning COM-FOR-T, to the long established trans-generational Pioneer Food Services.

By bringing together the diverse membership of the Ambassadors with Food and Drink businesses from across our area, it offered the members a taste of some of the fine products available from Lakeland Mues Muesli, Carlisle Brewery’s fine collection of ales, Two White Hats seasoning mixes, Grasmere Gingerbread, biscuits from COM-FOR-T, sausages from Pioneer, rhubarb crumble gin from Solway Spirits, to scones made with fresh herbs from Helens Herbs and many more. It also gave the members an opportunity to think about how important this sector is to the City.

The food sector not only offers long term employment from transgenerational family firms, whether this is from the smaller food producer with a global reach such as Grasmere Gingerbread, who at over a 170 years has an impressive array of international customers or Pioneer Foods at almost 150 years old that plays an essential part in the food supply chain across the City, SW Scotland and the North of England. The food sector also encourages the growth of innovative new businesses either rural (Lakeland Mues), urban (COM-FOR-T), Carlisle based (Carlisle Brewery) or from across the border (Solway Spirits).

From our stand we (Thomas Jardine & Co) asked attendees how they could either support this sector, or as a Food and Drink producer, what type of support they wanted from other businesses. The answers were illuminating and we will share these at another time, perhaps for now you could ask yourself the same questions…either as a non-food business what could you do for Food and Drink Producers near you, or as a Food and Drink Producer, what could you gain (or want) from working with businesses or experts near to you? Any thoughts please tweet us @thomasjardineco or email: hello@thomasjardineandco.co.uk

 


Cumbrian Food: it is BIG and it is CLEVER

Chatting with Peter Sidwell at his Simply Good Food HQ in Keswick reminded us of all the great things that are currently happening in and around Cumbrian food.

          When Peter started his cooking career in Keswick he was seen as revolutionary because he used local produce.  His entrepreneurial flair continues today with his Simply Good Food TV channel looking to reach 1,000,000 download figures and clips of the channel now showing on screens on the London Underground.  Just as Peter has diversified and grown his business, so the Food and Drink sector in Cumbria has evolved to include multinational food manufacturers, regional and national food producers and smaller artisanal food and drink producers with healthy export markets in place.

Local food is now not just about the local food markets, although they still play an important part in raising the profile of our awesome local food producers. Many of our larger local food retailers and hospitality businesses focus on the great food and drink producers in and around the county.  Just check out some of our great local retailers such as Low Sizergh Barn in the south of the county, Westmorland on the M6 and Cranston’s in the north. Or look at the wholesalers such as Caterite and Pioneer Foodservice both of which do sterling work in supporting our burgeoning food sector, acting as a vital link between our local food and drink producers and the consumer.

Cumbrian food is getting on the map. This year’s Great Taste Awards – probably the best barometer of artisan food and drink in the UK -, were well represented in Cumbria with food and drink producers scooping 51 awards including prestigious 2 star awards for: Shed1 Distillery; Lakeland Mues; Stringers Beer; Mr Vikki’s; Peace and Loaf Bakehouse, Woodall’s Charcuterie; Bruce and Luke’s Coffee; Cranstons; Dalemain Marmalade and Hawkshead Relish and 3 stars for Grants Smokehouse and More The Artisan Bakery.

All these food businesses large and small are doing their bit to raise the standard of Cumbrian food and drinks and in doing so are creating a growing vibrant food economy for our region.  They are creating new opportunities for employment in the food sector as well as the many service businesses that support it from hospitality; to accountants; to social media experts, to web designers; to photographers; to graphic designers; to packaging and box businesses to HR experts and so many more.

Food has always been an integral part of the Cumbrian economy and we as consumers have an opportunity to become part of its rebirth.  So this weekend why not go and try that independent café or restaurant that you’ve always fancied visiting.  If you’re not going out, why not try one of the many local ales that are now brewed in your county or one of the local jams or coffees produced here.  You might just like what you try and then you too can become part of the Cumbrian food revolution.

If you’re a business looking to source more local food check out our map on https://www.thomasjardineandco.co.uk/centre-family-food-business/ and if we have missed a fab food or drink producer please let us know.  Follow us on Twitter @thomasjardineco


Food Entrepreneurs….the Lakeland MUES story

 

Lakeland Mues…it is all about trust and product, a SPACE and TIME dimension.

A great morning out and an opportunity to talk to the Lakeland Mues guys, two young lads whose passion for quality muesli led to a starring role in BBC Two’s recent ‘Back to the Land’ documentary on local food producers.

Arriving at Lakeland Mues HQ we were met by Luke clutching a bag of their new ‘Total Nutter’ blend, Luke had a broad grin on his face that to be honest we’ve always seen him wearing.

First met the Mues guys when we were manning a market stall next to them on a particularly wet and windy Cumbrian autumn day.  Their belief in their product shines through despite their practiced nonchalant style.  They truly appreciate the lifestyle they can have in this wonderful part of the world – #Cumbria – and also have the talent and work ethic to make sure they have a business that will succeed and thrive.  They are already coaching a roaster in the fine details of producing their muesli and have a small team of people assisting with the bagging.

We sit down with Tim and Luke over a cup of tea and try to capture what drives them and how they manage to thrive in a highly competitive market place.  The answer as always is both simple and complicated.  They both agree that food businesses always learn from each other and they are always looking for tips on doing things.  A growing business always has new demands on your time and there never seems enough time to do all the things they need to do, but that stops them from getting bored and you get the feeling they quite like taking on new challenges. The greatest balancing act of all, SPACE (both Physical and Head, the SPACE to think and plan) and TIME – the elusive commodity which can be easily lost and hard to find!

 

They both agree that they work well together both have separate roles, one more creative and one more on the financial side of the business.  But both are happy to work on getting large orders out or working jointly on anything else that a growing business inevitably faces above all else whatever happens always have a laugh about it.

The Lakeland Mues business is currently based in two units one for storage and office work and one just down the road where the alchemy happens roasting the seeds and nuts that goes into their generous muesli.  They would ideally like to merge this into one location and plans are in motion to get this done (again showing that they are not just working on the day to day of the business).

They have a growing order book from retailers and farm shops which clearly demonstrates how their drive is growing their business and they also have quite a loyal on-line fan base who regularly buy their product (the appearance on the TV definitely helped this). And they have just won a coveted Guild of Fine Foods   2 Star TASTE Award!  OUTSTANDING!

Above all else they have a belief in their brand and work with people they trust, you just know these guys are going somewhere, watch out Kelloggs, the Cumbrians are coming.

 

 

How are you feeling about your business – are you ON IT? If YES, get in touch and tell us your story, if No, get in touch and see what we can do to make your life better – at the very least you’ll experience an exceptional cup of coffee!

email: hello@thomasjardineandco.co.uk

Facebook/Twitter @thomasjardineco


Waving the Flag…

We’ve been out and about recently talking to Family Businesses of all size and age – the common theme is that they are really focused and tend to quietly get on with doing really good stuff.  If asked ‘do you celebrate being a Family Business’?  The answer is usually NO – that’s not what we do, it wouldn’t seem appropriate to ‘flag wave’’.  Well let me tell you family businesses are essential to Local, Regional and National economies…. let’s have a look at some of those UK Family Business Facts and Stats……. courtesy of the IFB and Oxford Economics.

  • The vast majority of businesses in the UK are family run … In 2015 there were 7 million in the UK, (UP 3% on 2014).
  • They make up 87% of all private sector businesses in the UK. Small family businesses dominate, comprising more than 97% of the total.
  • Family businesses employed 2 million people in 2015.
  • They provide 36 per cent of the UK’s jobs and close to half of the jobs in the private sector.
  • Family businesses earned £1.4 trillion in 2015, UP 6% from 2014.
  • They generated a £460 billion to UK GDP. This was 36% of the entire private sector’s
  • Family-run businesses’ gross value added was £43 billion, UP 10% on the previous year, driven by increases in activity in real estate, professional and business services, wholesale and retail.
  • Some 52% of the contribution of family businesses to UK GDP in 2015 was made by firms with fewer than 10 employees.
  • Family businesses collected or paid nearly £133 billion to the Exchequer in 2015, including corporation tax, business rates, employee and employer national insurance contributions, and income taxes. 6% HIGHER than the previous year.

Family businesses are individually BRILLIANT and collectively AWESOME, so if you ever thought you had no flag to wave think again!  Whether your 1, 10, 40 or 150 years old, they are all key milestone’s and you will have positively impacted many people along the way, your customers, your suppliers, your fabulous teams – so why not celebrate.   Take a look at Family Business conferences and Awards in your region – attend the Cumbrian Family Business Conference open to all Family Businesses not just Cumbria!  Enter regional and national awards such as the Cumbria Family Business Awards.  Go on it’s time to wave the Family Business Flag!   If you’re planning a celebration, we’d love to come!

Here’s Hairy Biker Dave Myers presenting the Outstanding Family Business Award to a brilliant generational family business in Cumbria Bells of Lazonby

Time to wave that FLAG…


Create and Innovate from the EDGE……

Only in Cumbria can you get a group of businesses together who walk through a ‘light shower’ to get on a boat, dressed in frocks and suits!  But hey, we live in and around a newly formed World Heritage site and boy how lucky are we to live and work on the edge in one of the worlds most beautiful areas.

This was our first IoD event, jointly organised with the Cumbria Family Business Network and we were truly impressed with the light touch organisation that just allowed us to talk to each other at the wonderful, Family run Waterhead Hotel in Ambleside, part of a brilliant Family operated hotel group.

The noise level in the Cumbria Tourisms hotel of the year 2016 gradually rose as old and new acquaintances and friends caught up with each other.   Then boarding the Windermere Cruises boat just confirmed why we have finally been confirmed World Heritage Status, there cannot be many places with better scenery than that which surrounds Lake Windermere.

This sentiment was echoed by our keynote speaker, Kevin Roberts, who with a choice of houses across the world haschosen Grasmere as his UK base and is also his choice for his wedding!  Kevin, I have to say, is a great speaker, he highlighted Cumbria as the ideal location for innovation as it is far enough from London to allow free thinking and creativity (a sentiment we completely agree with). Likening us to his other favourite haunt in New Zealand with both areas destined to change the world from the edge – think of New Zealand’s world beating All Blacks or Cumbria’s world beating Food, both from a geographical edge and both world beaters.

Quick apology to Kevin for thinking his rattle snake was a sheep…we don’t get many snakes in Cumbria – long story!

So what were our takeaways from Kevin?

Cumbrian businesses should create and innovate as we are on the edge – geographically speaking!  With edge creativity we can ‘win the world’ – our region must be innovative and creative because of our brilliant geography. He commented we are over managed in the UK which is blocking creativity and Cumbria has the opportunity to inspire NOT command and control.  He said, leaders don’t get things done, they make things happen – agreed!  Leaders create other leaders – so true for generational family business – he said we must create leaders across generations – agreed!

Fail Fast, Learn Fast, Fix Fast (Kevin Roberts, 2017)

Only in Cumbria would this world renowned speaker be presented with a locally produced food hamper as a wedding gift…truly a sign that Cumbrian businesses collectively recognise the uniqueness and quality of the food we produce.  With that in mind the cruise was really helped by the provision of an awesome Cumbrian buffet who proudly offered their very own roast ham and Cumberland sausage.

After dinner had lots of useful conversations, including one with Spencer and Diane from Herdy its only when you start talking about what you want to do that you really start knowing what you are offering to the world.

The whole night made us think that business has always been about “Getting your message out.” which is an acquired art, BUT jumping back into business is just like riding a bike…you think you remember it all and then you hit a bump, fall off graze your knee and get back on again…the secret is just to keep in getting back on the bike more times than you fall off it.  As Kevin said entrepreneurs and leaders build fast, fail fast and learn fast.