13 February 2014 | Saint Homobonus
The patron saint of purchasers takes a look at the month’s more unlikely business tales.
Beardy celebrities like George Clooney and Jeremy Paxman were blamed for last year’s drop in razor sales. Indeed Will King, founder of the King of Shaves razor business says 2013’s ‘beard phase’ affected the sector and sales were down in the US and the UK for the first time because “guys were not shaving, because of the celebrity beard, and partly because of the recession”. Determined to beat the profit trim, the company is unveiling a new razor, the Hyperglide. King will no doubt be banking on growth this year.
US Smokin’ sales
Colorado, the first US state to legalise the sale of cannabis for recreational use on 1 January, was soon short of stock. Crowds queued at its three dozen licensed shops to buy cannabis, spending $1 million on New Year’s Day alone. However, for some reason, their supply chains were not functioning and soon a sign in the window of The Clinic, a Denver shop read: “We are out of recreational cannabis. Please check tomorrow. Sorry for the inconvenience.” With upmarket ski resort Aspen approving its first licence, demand can only grow so let’s hope service levels reach a new (legal) high.
Flight of fancy
Spare a thought for the Leicester couple who thought they had found the perfectly priced flight to the Caribbean from Birmingham. When they arrived at Birmingham Airport it was to find their flight was leaving from Birmingham-Shuttleworth International Airport – in the US state of Alabama, 4,000 miles away. Proving that few spectacular bargains are ever as good as they seem, the couple’s return tickets to Trinidad for £800 were worthless. “We had no choice but to get our car out of long stay and drive home,” they said. Then again, in 2008 Birmingham’s city council handed out leaflets praising Brummies for recycling – adorned with the Birmingham, Alabama skyline.
Bite the bullet
An internal British Army magazine has told troops to stop firing off unused ammunition at the end of training exercises and hand it back in. One soldier wrote that he had been told by directing staff to “start bombing up, we can’t take any ammo back”. Excuses for not handing the bullets back ranged from “it’s good training to feel what full automatic feels like”, to “it’s too much paperwork”. An Army spokesman said the practice was banned. With the Army facing the loss of 20,000 regulars by 2020, it seems every bullet counts.
A “bring-your-own-chopsticks” (BYO) movement in China and Japan is combating the ‘ecological disaster’ caused by disposable wooden chopsticks. The Chinese throw away between 57 and 80 billion pairs of chopsticks every year while the Japanese, influenced by Shinto ideas of purity, throw out even more. While new chopsticks at every meal was traditional, younger people are embracing BYO. Manufacturers are even making cute cloth boxes or bags to carry reusable chopsticks.
Ping pong anyone?
Bored with board meetings? Then the Table Tennis Meeting Table from Office Fitness might be for you. It can be converted into a ping pong table – and its laminate finish ensures there will be no scuff marks when you are negotiating important deals. With a recent British Council of Offices report showing that 43 per cent of workers prefer a non-traditional office environment it might be time to get the net, bats and balls out and start smashing.
From war boards to Big tops
While we know them as couriers, there’s more to FedEx. In fact, the company has a meteorology service. Apparently, whenever heavy rain and snow, tornadoes, typhoons, hurricanes or erupting volcanoes threaten, FedEx can track the phenomenon using its colour-coded “War Board”.
And unlike most national weather bureaus, the company claims it can ‘forecast runway visibility when it drops below half a mile’. So next time there’s a storm think FedEx, think delivery.
And what of competitor DHL? What’s it got in common with Cirque du Soleil? No, not clowns. It’s integrating into the circus’ supply chain activities, supporting its Big Top activities. After all, as Ken Allen, CEO, DHL Express says, the two companies are “a perfect fit” as both “amaze and delight” customers. In fact, DHL is aiming to replicate those breathtaking circus performances behind the scenes. So next time a DHL delivery arrives, perhaps you could ask for a bit of a show?
May I just say; I HATE e-procurement sites – they are all about as friendly as a rusty mangle!!! @CllrJonSHarvey