David Parkin on an exchange of export success, a Playboy story and a new role

David Parkin on an exchange of export success, a Playboy story and a new role

THE sun was threatening to push itself through the clouds above York Racecourse bathing the Knavesmire in an early morning autumnal hue. There is nothing that compensates for having to get up in the dark than arriving at your destination and being inspired by the setting. As I walked out onto the balcony of the Knavesmire Stand at York early on Wednesday morning I could see joggers and dog walkers speckling the grassland which dates from pre-mediaeval times and which is now the home of York Racecourse. I wouldn’t profess to be superstitious but given I was there to compere a breakfast seminar on international trade opportunities, the sign facing me across the racecourse did seem something of an omen. Above a huge photograph of horses racing at York, it said: “Best in the World”. That’s also the aim of Export Exchange, a the peer-to-peer export knowledge, mentoring and connections network for the Leeds City Region. Launched by the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, the Department for International Trade and a number of private sector media, marketing and export specialists in June 2017, the ExportExchange online and offline network is a unique collaboration with the aim of helping businesses within the city region and beyond to increase exports, grow revenues and create employment. ExportExchange (www.exportexchange.co.uk) is growing daily, welcoming new Patrons and helping new and growing exporters across the region, from Barnsley to Harrogate, and Bradford to York. I hosted the launch event in Leeds in June and this week’s event in York was the first in a series of seminars focused on tapping into the experiences of those...
David Parkin looks into the future for Asda, remembers Raging Bull and names from Game of Thrones

David Parkin looks into the future for Asda, remembers Raging Bull and names from Game of Thrones

IF I’d known writing about Asda would create so much interest, I’d have done it years ago. As well as being emailed out to more than 7,000 people I also publish this blog on Linkedin. Last week’s set a record with 5,850 views on Linkedin and 146 likes. Interestingly 671 people from Asda read the column with another 51 from George at Asda and 50 from Walmart on top of that – as well as 105 people from Morrisons who read it and over 50 from Sainsbury’s. There were plenty of comments posted too – the majority in agreement with my views that Asda has lost its way and needs to find a route back to what made it so successful in the first place. One comment simply said: “What a brutal, frank and damning article…but so true unfortunately.” I take no pleasure in the current predicament in which Leeds-based supermarket group Asda finds itself. Contrary to what it tells the market, in my view most of Asda’s problems are of its own making and I just pointed that out. I used the phrase “frog marching” to describe the way the supermarket has been rapidly exiting its redundant staff at its Leeds head office. What was interesting was that several people who have been victims, or watched it happen, used the same phrase, which suggests we are not talking about isolated incidents here. For a business that prided itself on valuing its “colleagues” it doesn’t say much. Some former employees said it lost its way when it started to put profit before people. Of course profit is key for...
David Parkin on the price of failure at Asda and a Goodfella who hit a high note as a Soprano

David Parkin on the price of failure at Asda and a Goodfella who hit a high note as a Soprano

THEY used to run a scheme at Asda’s head office in Leeds called the Golden Cone Awards. Staff, or “colleagues” as the supermarket likes to call them, voted for the most effective and popular team members who then were allowed to park in a space marked by a golden traffic cone right outside the front door of Asda HQ. Don’t laugh, there were so many people working in the head office that the car park resembled the M25 on a bad day. Visitors to Asda were advised to stick their car in a public car park nearby. I once went to interview the chief executive or “president” as Asda, owned by US giant Wal-Mart, likes to call the boss and got a slapped wrist for leaving my car in a golden cone space. I quite enjoyed it. Not the parking, the slap. One thing is for sure: with the amount of redundancies Asda has made from its head office in the last couple of years I very much doubt that car parking is currently at a premium. Last year the supermarket chain made about 750 redundancies at its headquarters and at the start of this month it announced another 288 job losses – about 10 per cent of the total number of staff working there. For those of us who take a passing interest in the fortunes of the players in Britain’s highly competitive supermarket sector, this didn’t really come as any surprise. In my opinion Asda has been sleepwalking towards this for years. Under Archie Norman and Allan Leighton and several of their successors, the supermarket led the...
David Parkin goes to Hull and back, meets a finance director with a fan club and embraces gender diversity

David Parkin goes to Hull and back, meets a finance director with a fan club and embraces gender diversity

HULL has really embraced its title of UK City of Culture with a gusto that is impressive. Cultural events are happening on a daily basis throughout 2017 and the East Yorkshire city now provides a case study of how to leverage such an opportunity to maximum benefit. It has been so successful that it has almost made people forget about Hull YouTube icon Ronnie Pickering. Who? Ronnie Pickering! I was back in Hull last Friday for what has been dubbed the ‘Jolly Boys Cultural Tour’. Some readers may remember a similar event last year. The idea was the brainchild of Hull businessman Shaun Watts, who wondered how he and fellow members of the city’s business community could make their contribution to the City of Culture celebrations. Shaun and 10 other business contacts decided to each invite a guest from outside Hull to spend a day touring the city sampling some of its rich history and culture…and pubs. To be fair it is a much more palatable prospect than painting yourself blue and standing naked in the city streets. If you are unfamiliar with that story, it happened last year when US artist Spencer Tunick persuaded 3,200 local people to gather in the city centre, strip naked and be painted four shades of blue before posing in various locations in Hull to be photographed for an art exhibition commissioned by the city’s Ferens Art Gallery ahead of the UK City of Culture celebrations. Last year’s Cultural Tour took in the nearby town of Beverley and some East Yorkshire country pubs on board an historic 1947 bus but this year, in...