Friday, 31 December 2010

Sales Forecasting “ ...‘tis the season to be jolly”? -Bellwethers for the Sales period of Christmas 2010/2011

A bellwether is any entity in a given market that serves to create or influence trends or to foretell future happenings. Bellwethers help in the challenges of Sales Forecasting.

The word is derived from the Middle English bellwether referring to the practice of placing a bell around the neck of a castrated ram (a wether) leading his flock of sheep. The movements of the flock could be noted by hearing the bell before the flock was in sight.

The department store John Lewis in Oxford Street, London has a slogan “never knowingly undersold” which was adopted in 1925. The West End store is considered a bellwether for the UK retail sector.

They recorded £27.8m of sales on December 27, up 54% on the same day last year. This number was 30% higher than the company's previous biggest day ever, December 27, 2008.

Across the three trading days since Christmas Day 2010, sales were up 26.2% against the same period last year.

The effect of the traditional Christmas sales coupled with the forthcoming increase in VAT at the beginning of January, is thought to have helped boost sales. This known in sales training circles as the cautionary close - "buy now while stocks last." John Lewis call their Sale a CLEARANCE Sale.
However a survey by the British Retail Consortium this week suggested that most retailers expected lower sales in 2011.

The increase in VAT on January 4 from 17.5% to 20% coupled with public spending cuts is likely to make consumers draw in their spending.

Another bellwether is the report from the British Retail Consortium (aka BRC), which said that the majority of big retailers said they expected 2011 to be worse than 2010. Likewise, analysts from Synovate market research arm of Aegis Group plc have released another survey that said Boxing Day sales were down 22.8% in 2010.
Click for Synovate website

BRC researchers questioned 17 of the UK’s biggest retailers, which together make up 51% of the total retail market by turnover. (The study took place from the 22nd of November to the 1st of December 2010.)

The study results showed that :-

64% of retailers said 2011’s sales would worsen

18% thought they would improve

18% said there would be no change.

The biggest concerns among retailers were weakening consumer demand and inflation.
Click for British Retail Consortium website

(view from top floor escalator at John Lewis, Oxford street ,London)

John Lewis reported £97.1 million in sales during the week leading up to Christmas, a 30% increase from the figures seen at the end of 2009.

Click for John Lewis Partnership website

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

A Simples Life - Aleksandr Orlov - Book review

N.B. All fotos on this blog are unauthorised and unofficial. For official visit

Title of Book : A Simples Life

Subtitle: My life and Times

Author: Alexsandr Orlov

Publisher : Ebury Press

ISBN: 978 -0-091-94050-8
***** Five star - Most thrillsy book ever written by meerkeat in soothing Jacuzzi bath

Genre: Autobiography

Style: Narrative

Contents page: 5 parts of 3 Chapterings each.

Flick through eye appeal: Well illustrated

Time for a breather Stops : Each chapter written in easy bite sized juicy grub portions

Golden Nuggets: “Forever Furry” School song lyricings

Topic Summary: Story of Alexksandr’s struggles and successes ( and Sergei) scroll down for short review.

War Stories: Captain Vitaly in battle of Courageness, Campaign against Monghis Khan and brave stoires of Meerkovo Home Guard and awarding of Purple Claw

Illustration: Colourfuls and informative

Quotes: “Sometimes I am amazing myself.” “ We are all unique like snowflakes or batteries in my closet”

Short Review
With emergings power of BRIC nations ( Brazil, Russia India & China) this bookamabob is essentials reading for today’s executive who needing insight into modern Russian Meerkat Business managements.
This family tale, begins with great economic disaster of mauraudings mongooses who thieved family fortune in Kalahari.
Forget conventional western ‘rags to riches’ stories of Sugar Alan ,Simon the X factor, Buffet Warren or Trump Donald today you need the wisdoms and experiencings of brave and valouress meerkat Aleksandr.
Learning from his Sartorial rectitudinous in his dressings with stylish cravat, learn secrets of success of this phenomenons of twenty first century business tycoon.
Like all great business peoples, knowing who to surround with in brave endeavorings is key. Behind every successful meerkat is an unspeakings hero Sergei. A crossings between Jeeves and Einstein. and are trading names of BISL limited

( Aleksandr outside Brighton Pavilion , England on book signing tour. Onion domes remind him of church in home village of Meerkovo make him a little homesickness )

(Shocking foto taken by Ratarazzi fotographer for Dubrio Utrio magazine ( like English Hello matey Magazine)

Still show Aleksandr fine physicals

Sea at Brighton , England cold as mighty Volga in Winter but bracings)

Sponsorship -If you love it, LV= it! Great afternoon at the Big Stoop

Even on holiday I can't escape the world of selling!

Today even the name of sports' stadia can be sold to Corporate Sponsors e.g.Arsenal's "Emirates" stadium. The Stoop - Harlequins Rugby Club's ground is named after a distinguished Harlequins player Adrian Stoop 1883-1957. Its stadium can hold 14,800 or so.

On occasion the club plays at Twickenham's RFU Ground whose stadium has a somewhat larger capacity.

On the 27th of December 2010 the "Mighty Quins" (Harlequins RFC) played London Irish at the home of English Rugby in round 11 of the Aviva Premiership . Over 72,000 fans attended. It was a super holiday treat.

I’d not been to a Premiership Rugby Union game for years. I watched a couple of games last season of Ealing Rugby Club. Sponsorship at every Club level is key to the modern game. Ealing Rugby Club are sponsored by Trailfinders travel business.

But the scale of sponsorship for the likes of clubs like Harlequins is of a different order.

(I am old enough to remember when at half time players stayed on the pitch and had a sliced orange segment!)

Nowadays one is more likely to see a player swig Gatorade or some other “sports drink” carefully showing the logo to the TV cameras and millions of viewers.

Monday’s event was a show biz extravaganza There were LV=cheerleaders, animal mascots and even fireworks to set the show on its way.
Pre-match warm up acts were drawn from the stars from the X factor TV show including winner Matt Cardle, Rebecca Ferguson and Jamie Archer performed before the match and at half time.

Even the match ball was delivered on a hovercraft with Father Christmas on board!

Sky sports were the media broadcaster. Ticketmaster were the official ticketing partner, and Help a London Child as the Quins partner charity was repeatedly announced over the PA system through the promotion of special edition shirts.

LV= were the Official Big Game sponsor.

The re-branding of Liverpool and Victoria Friendly Society has been a great success.
From a position of 26th in the most well known brand in the insurance world just a couple of years ago,it now is up with the likes of Churchill,Direct Line, AA, Aviva and More Than. The former heritage brand of the Liverpool and Victoria Friendly Society whose HQ is now ironically in Bournemouth has the brand name LV= . It has re-established this famous company now back into its rightful position. Playing on the LV wording resembling ‘love’ ( the V is a heart shape in their advertising imagery) they have successfully linked in people's mind that they look after what people love in life - their cars, their homes, their retirement funds.

Rugby sponsorship is big business. One of the reasons the Premiership Rugby sponsorship appealed to Aviva so much apparently was the game’s values of teamwork and respect which still exists within the game. Through their adverts they want to show that an Aviva Premiership Rugby team is about far more than just the players on the pitch.

Aviva signed a four-year sponsorship deal of Premiership Rugby in July 2010.

The deal is worth £20m and includes significant investment in grassroots rugby.

Quins' Corporate Sales: So it is at Club level in the sport.Quins have 5 grades of corporate sponsors.
In the £5.00 glossy programme, Sales Manager, Julian Gent’s welcoming piece to Corporate Hospitality clients shows an impressive set of sponsoring clients.

The No. 1 main sponsor is Etihad Airways. There are 3 Official sponsors (Burgandy)are Green King IPA , LV= and Norton Rose, followed by 7 Official Sponsors ( Green) including Brita , Timberland and Alfa Romeo, 31 Diamond Club members and finally 32 Gold debenture holders.

Sales can be contacted on 0208 410 6024 Click for Corporate Hospitality Sales at Harlequins

The colourful harlequin colours ,of course, lend themselves to merchandise - a useful brand extension to the Quins. Products range from £10 for a Beanie (hat) , scarves at £12.50 to kids shirts @ £35-£40 to adult sized shirts @ £ 50

Harlequins also take their Corporate Social Responsibility seriously through the Try Learning initiative. Click for Try Learning

Quins also support Right to Play whose belief is that every child irrespective of race, race, religion, social status or disability has the right to play and the right to a childhood.
Click to find out more about Right to Play

So far as the match was concerned…
The sides were evenly matched and the score line was made up of penalty scores and one try. It was a match more for those who like their rugby technical. The skill and athleticism of the players was impressive ( and guilt inducing for me as it was a reminder to get back to the gym and work off some of the Christmas Turkey and trimmings!)

It was a closely fought game and off the pitch the crowd enjoyed the Mexican waves surged around the National Stadium. Quins won 28-18 but London Irish looked dangerous and fought right up to the end of the game.
A great day out.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Pen Ponds, Richmond Park and feeding seagulls

Pen Ponds were dug in 1746. In 2010 they froze over.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Happy Boxing Day

("The Stoning of Stephen"- stained glassed window at All Saints Church , Fulham, London December 26th 2010)

Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the feast of Stephen,
When the snow lay round about,
Deep and crisp and even.
Brightly shown the moon that night,
Though the frost was cruel,
When a poor man came in sight,
Gathering winter fuel.
Hither, page, and stand by me.
If thou know it telling:
Yonder peasant, who is he?
Where and what his dwelling?
Sire, he lives a good league hence,
Underneath the mountain,
Right against the forest fence
By Saint Agnes fountain.
Bring me flesh, and bring me wine.
Bring me pine logs hither.
Thou and I will see him dine
When we bear the thither.
Page and monarch, forth they went,
Forth they went together
Through the rude wind's wild lament
And the bitter weather.
Sire, the night is darker now,
And the wind blows stronger.
Fails my heart, I know not how.
I can go no longer.
Ark my footsteps my good page,
Tread thou in them boldly:
Thou shalt find the winter's rage
Freeze thy blood less coldly.
In his master's step he trod,
Where the snow lay dented.
Heat was in the very sod
Which the saint had printed.
Therefore, Christian men, be sure,
Wealth or rank possessing,
Ye who now will bless the poor
Shall yourselves find blessing.

First martyr - "Witness"

Friday, 24 December 2010

Christmas is coming

Crib at All Saints Church , Fulham, London, awaiting a certain arrival.

May the joy of the angels,
the eagerness of the shepherds,
the perseverance of the wise men,
the obedience of Joseph and Mary,
and the
peace of the Christ child
be yours this Christmas

Shop Window Earl's Court Road , London W8. Real snow on the window ledge - cotton wool in the display

"....What can I give him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
if I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
yet what I can I give him: give my heart."

....The heavenly Babe you there shall find
To human view displayed,
All meanly wrapped in swathing bands,
And in a manger laid.”

A knitted set of crib characters at a Nursing home in Fleet)

The lovely crib at Trafalgar Square, London, below Nelson's Column

Little Lamb, who made thee
Does thou know who made thee
Gave thee life & bid thee feed?
By the stream & o'er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing woolly bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice.
Making all the vales rejoice:
Little Lamb who made thee
Does thou know who made thee ?

Little Lamb I'll tell thee,
Little Lamb I'll tell thee;
He is called by thy name,
For he calls himself a Lamb:
He is meek & he is mild,
He became a little child
I a child & thou a lamb,
We are called by His name,
Little Lamb God bless thee,
Little Lamb God bless thee.

The Lamb
William Blake

Monday, 20 December 2010

Some good causes that need our support this Christmas 2010

These good causes are supported by friends or myself. Some are well known and some are smaller and specialist and less well known charities.

All are worth supporting and learning about. Do have a quick read about their work .

There is brief information about the work of each organisation plus a way to contact the charity if you would like to give a donation.

Accompanying them are photos I have taken with my trusty companion , (my 5.0 MP Tecknika camera from Tesco) of snow scenes taken in Holland Park , West London December 2010 .

Click for The Upper Room
The Upper Room provides a broad range of services for the homeless, vulnerable, and socially disadvantaged of West London including serving over 20,000 meals a year. Our charity has helped people in need for over 18 years
Aims of organisation:
The Upper Room is a registered charity dedicated to the relief of poverty, suffering and social disadvantage working with the vulnerable, marginal and homeless of West London. All its services are free and the common theme is "feeding communities in need".
The Upper Room is particularly interested in working with guests to curb addictions, sustain housing and maintain healthy relationships. Another increasingly large group that needs our help is migrant workers. The Upper Room charity receives little government funding and relies on grants, donations from individuals, churches, schools and community groups who are generous with fundraising events, especially at Harvest and Christmas time, to continue providing its services.
There are three Upper Room projects at the moment: UR4Meals, UR4Jobs & UR4Driving .
These services are focused on supporting and enabling people to regain their confidence and health, improve their employability and life skills, as well as tackling loneliness and social isolation. Each project has a primary function and several secondary functions including being an incubator for new projects.

The Upper Room relies on donations to provide:
• Hot food 5 days a week;
• Clothes, shoes, socks and underwear;
• Toiletries;
• Blankets, bedding, and sleeping bags when available, for rough sleepers. - run a paediatric nursing service for terminally ill children so that they can continue to live at home
The Pepper Foundation Registered Charity Number 1056823

Click for Pepper Foundation

Good health is something we take for granted in our youth and any loving parents wish is that their children enjoy a happy and carefree childhood, without worry or pain. Sadly, some children are not so fortunate and can suffer from traumatic life-limiting and in some cases, terminal illnesses.
The suffering endured by these children and the stress and strain it brings to families can be unbearable.
The Pepper Foundation is a registered charity, which provides funds for The Pepper Children’s Nurses managed by The Iain Rennie Hospice at Home Service (IRHH).
Our nurses provide much needed professional and loving home care on a 24 hour, 365 days of the year – on-call basis, for seriously ill children throughout the Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire area.

Click for Norwood

Norwood supports people with learning disabilities and children and families in need. We provide vital, personalised services to the Jewish community and to people in the wider community, in London and the South East.
• We believe people should live the life they choose and we work with individuals to achieve their goals. Each year we enable thousands of people to change their lives, one by one.

The Cara Trust

Click for The Cara Trust

We are the UK's leading charity focusing on the spiritual and pastoral support needs of people living with or affected by HIV. 2010 marks our 22nd year of providing essential social welfare and spiritual support services for people living with HIV across London and beyond.

We were founded by Fr. David Randall in 1988 as a community of friendship of people living with HIV. The word Cara is derived from the Gaelic word for friend. We believe that our focus on community and friendship still holds true today. These are key aspects that continue to make Cara unique as an HIV charity.
During the past year we've increased the number of people supported by Cara by 11% to 356, we've also increased the hours of service delivery to people in need by 8% to 15,963 hours. Thanks to all our supporters for helping make this possible.
Click for Crusaid
Registered charity no: 1011718.
Crusaid is a grant making and fundraising charity that exists to support people living with HIV and AIDS. Crusaid has a national and international reach and works with those communities most at risk and affected by HIV and AIDS in their countries.
In the UK we focus our efforts through the Crusaid Hardship Fund. The Fund provides support for people living with HIV and AIDS in poverty in the UK. We work with a network of approximately 400 other organisations to help our beneficiaries to lift themselves out of poverty in the long term, get over a difficult patch or return to work to improve the quality of their lives. We provide funding for everything from the purchase of household goods, payment of utility bills, respite care and education.
Abroad we work at community level to develop grassroots projects that can act as the catalyst for long term solutions for those communities affected by HIV and AIDS. We call this programme, Points of Light as each project brings help and hope to communities most in need of our help. We will equip communities with the knowledge and tools to tackle the AIDS epidemic on their door step in a sustainable way. We identify and work with local organisations, capacity building them to take on the Point of Light programme in a way that meets their needs.
The Children's Society

The Children's Society is a leading national charity that makes childhood better for all children in the UK
The Children’s Society 2010.
Reg Charity No. 221124

Our network of community-based projects provide targeted, immediate and lasting help for children who feel excluded, isolated or abandoned; children who live in a vicious circle of fear and harm, and who are faced with a lifetime of danger and disadvantage in their daily lives.
Our schools work, children's centres and mentoring schemes help many more children avoid crisis by developing the skills and confidence they need to challenge and overcome difficult situations.
Our research and campaigning creates real change by influencing the thinking of everyone - from the general public to politicians and decision makers - about how to make childhood better.
The charity was established in 1881 when Sunday school teacher Edward Rudolf found two of his pupils begging for food on London's streets. Like The Children's Society today, Rudolf was a pioneer and wanted to do things differently.
He didn't like the large, institutional children's homes of the day and so set up a model children's home, offering vulnerable children a smaller, more caring alternative.
In recent times, the nature of our work has kept pace with the changing needs of children in an evolving society.
Our priorities for a good childhood are driven by what children tell us they need the most - to live in a world where they can experience loving, caring relationships in families and communities that respect and support them.

What is a Maggie's Centre?
A Maggie’s Centre is a place to turn to for help with any of the problems, small or large, associated with cancer.
Under one roof you can access help with information, benefits advice, psychological support both individually and in groups, courses and stress reducing strategies. You don’t have to make an appointment, or be referred and everything we offer is free of charge.
It is there for anybody who feels the need for help, which includes those who love and look after someone with cancer, who often feel as frightened and vulnerable as those who actually have the disease.
Click for Maggie's Centres
registered charity number SC024414
What is a Maggie's Centre?
A Maggie’s Centre is a place to turn to for help with any of the problems, small or large, associated with cancer.
Under one roof you can access help with information, benefits advice, psychological support both individually and in groups, courses and stress reducing strategies. You don’t have to make an appointment, or be referred and everything we offer is free of charge.
It is there for anybody who feels the need for help, which includes those who love and look after someone with cancer, who often feel as frightened and vulnerable as those who actually have the disease.
A Maggie’s Centre will be many things to many people. It is there for anybody to use in the way they want to. There isn’t a one size fits all recipe for how you live with cancer. Everybody needs to find their own way.
The job of the professionals at Maggie’s is to listen to you, to help you find out what you want and give you the tools to help yourself.
Nominated charity for the mayoral year 2010-2011 for Hammersmith and Fulham
The Mayor has chosen the RNLI – Royal National Lifeboat Institution - as her charity for 2010–2011. All money raised during the mayoral year will go to them
All cheques to be made payable to the Mayor’s Appeal Fund and sent to the Mayor’s Office, Room 201, Town Hall, King Street, London W6 9JU.
If you would like more information on the activities of RNLI please visit: .
Click for RNLI

charity registered in England and Wales (209603)
The RNLI is the charity that saves lives at sea. We provide a 24-hour lifeboat search and rescue service around the coasts of the UK and RoI, as well as a seasonal lifeguard service on many of the busiest beaches in England and Wales.
The RNLI also works to promote sea and beach safety.

Any Missing Links? Further best practice on LinkedIn and Sales

This post is the third of a three part series on getting better use of Linked In for sales. It is drawn from the excellent article by Paul Castain. see link to his article in part 1.

Click for Part 1 of the series

Click for Part 2 of the series

15) Use Linked In as part of your pre call planning process.

It helps to get inside your prospect’s head by enabling you to get a feel for how they think in group discussions and link to their blog etc. Paul Castain suggests you can follow companies and the RSS feed is a good way for you to organize your data via a reader. I have not tried this yet but will start to do it.

16) People find out about what you are about by using the applications such as Amazon bookshelf, slideshare and links to your blog! I think you need to be on a Linked In upgrade for this.

Tip: People buy from people they trust. One of the first steps towards trust in social media is familiarity ( in the sense of being better known). Ensure you give your network regular updates of your experiences !

17) Put a link to your Linked In profile in your email auto signature. ( Another task I must undertake for myself from now on)

Tip: Whenever you connect with someone, try to immediately connect with them on the other venues where you participate! e.g.: When you connect with someone on Linked In check their profile for their Twitter info if you are into Twitter !

18) Status Updates: Visibility on social media is important. Some put inspirational quotes in their status updates. Others will put a link to a timely article, links to article and/or blogs they have written.

The key is to stay on their 'radar' screen by continuing to add value. Take it easy on the self promotion though!

Make sure you comment on status updates from your network. Example: If you see that someone was just promoted at the ABC Company, by all means comment, like and send a congratulatory email. People appreciate that stuff.

Tip:It s a good discipline to scan the home page daily.

19) Keep your profile it up to date. This needs to be a regular ( daily if possible) investment. Don't forget, this is a long term investment.

20) Recommendations: When someone you barely know asks you for a recommendation be careful. Be selective with whom you ask and be selective with whom you give recommendations to. Don't forget it’s your credibility!

21) Ask and answer questions to further position yourself as a thought leader by clicking here:

Apparently when you answer a question on Linked In Q & A it allows you to share up to 3 links? This might be a good opportunity to gently guide someone by the hand to some content you have written.
Tip: If you want to get a better response and greater visibility when you ask a question? Choose the option to send the question out to up to 200 people in your network.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Sales wikileaks? Linked In for sales Part 2

"Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive!" *

Whether the author and poet Sir Walter Scott had the sort of Wikileaks taboo in mind or not, I guess that has been the story of this month.

Business Social Networks and associated correspondence on email are part of our sales lives now but maybe we should be careful not to be deceived or unintentionally deceive in our LnkedIn presence. What we commit to social media could become the Business Wikileaks of tomorrow! Point 9 (below) comes to mind.

This is the second of three posts about LinkedIn and sales which are based on Paul Castain’s article 21 Ways. We looked at 1-7 in the previous post on this topic

8) Show appreciation for those who contribute to your discussions.
First, you should always thank people publicly. We all appreciate being acknowledged in front of our peers. Acknowledging contributions encourages additional contributions and can encourage those following you to other discussions and groups.

Another way to show your appreciation is by sending a “Thank you" email. It’s a great networking opener and helps you differentiate from your competition!

9) Avoid attacking someone online in front of thousands. In a word DON’T! You can’t change stupid people and you will damage your brand in the process.

Tip: Keep in mind your what you want to be known for.

10) Use a hyperlink in your signature when you contribute to a discussion. If all you do is put the old “www” in it won’t read as a link (you won’t be able to click on that more information) Paul Castain suggests we put a http:// in front of your domain !

Caution: Be careful with this one! It borders on self-promotion. Some people really get carried away.

11) Don’t use the automated invites. Take a moment and make your invite personal! Plenty of "You Appeal" ( You..., Your,... you'll... etc.)

First impressions are inportant as is the power of being memorable.

Link back to something you have observed about them in the groups, a point they made, their company, some common ground or simply:

Dear Caspar:

I would be honoured if you would join my network! It grabs their attention.

12) Should you receive a lame invite try and remain courteous.

13) Start your own group! It enables you to be lead and be seen as a subject matter specialist.

Paul Castain waited until he had enough involvement in the groups and started his Sales Playbook Group. It’s grown by more than 16,000 members and it has dramatically enhanced his brand. He also is happy to say it has enhanced the brand of others as well. The law of reciprocity does work.

14) Add value to your network! One of the best ways you can do this is to become a connector to your network! Introduce people who need to know each other.

With so many people between jobs, looking for first jobs after University etc. in these challenging times keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities.

Consider having a recruitment /HR specialist or three in your network.

Rather than gathering followers, create evangelists to cascade the good news of your brand!

Tip: Third party reference is your best salesperson.

I started this blog post with such a cautious quote of Walter Scott's, maybe I should finish on a more courageous note from a similar period.

When news came that the courtesan Harriette Wilson was threatening to publish her memoirs and his letters, Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington (1769-1853), is reputed to have said “Publish and be damned!” .
Maybe the Wikileaks syndrome is not so new after all!!

* Sir Walter Scott 1771-1832 Marmon Canto v1 Stanza 17