2019 Year in Review

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As another year comes to a close, we have clarity on what’s going to start happening in 2020 regarding exiting from the European Union. As I wrote in my review of 2018, the World has always constantly changed, is constantly changing and will continue to change with every passing second and, in my opinion, it remains the case that those who can quickly adapt to the ever changing landscape are those that will prosper. Our Chairman, Graham Burns is very fond of using this particular phrase and it’s extremely pertinent to us right now:

“To exist is to change, to change is to mature and to mature is to create oneself endlessly”

On a personal level, 2019 has been a really positive year. My eldest son, Benoît passed (although I’ve since been told that the PC term to use is ‘met the required standard’….another example of society going mad, what’s wrong with teaching kids about winning and losing as this is a major constant in life?!) the Kent selection test making him eligible to apply for a place in any local Grammar School which was obviously a great achievement and one that his Mum and I are very proud of. What then followed proved to be a very challenging process as, between him, the Wife & I, we had to decide which School he wanted to apply to. As a Grammar student, my opinion was that he should attend a Grammar School but, as my Wife went to a Comprehensive, she had a different opinion. Ultimately, Benoît elected to choose our local Comprehensive School which, as he passed the test, means he’s guaranteed a place and will be in their Grammar stream. The whole process was a huge learning curve for us all and, whilst I will admit to it not being my preference for him, the decision had been made and I’m now going to throw my complete support behind him and help him to make a complete success of it…..does this attitude have parallels with anything else we’ve just gone through as a nation??? Our youngest, Théodore has made significant progress in his 2nd year at Infant School and, whilst a lot more challenging to handle compared to his Brother, he’s a lovely well-mannered (well, at least in the presence of everyone else bar us!) boy with a good heart. The biggest personal news we had this year is that, come Feb 2020, our family will be 1 larger with the birth of our 3rd and final son. Having another child wasn’t in the plans but it’s obviously a huge blessing for us and one we’re very grateful for. For those who don’t know my children, the eldest is clearly my son (coffee coloured skin, brown eyes and dark hair) whereas Théo is clearly his Mum’s child (white, blond and blue eyed) so we’re hoping to have a freckly redhead with green eyes for the third just to make up a unique set of boys!

As for work, well…2019 has been a fantastic year with so many great individual and collective achievements. We head into the last ¼ of our FY tracking ahead of our projections and we do so because our customers (new and existing) continually place their trust in us to handle their business correctly and, whilst not perfect, we do so with great care, respect and attention to detail. As a sales centric business, our Sales Department is the driving force of the Company BUT it’s the support of our Purchasing, Operations and Finance Departments that has been instrumental in us achieving the results we have so far and this will remain the case; Sales cannot sell without having the right stock, Sales cannot provide a service without our Operations Department making sure orders are despatched correctly and the Company cannot make profit without our Accounts Department collecting debt on time and paying our suppliers! We have so many talented employees throughout the Company with a great mix of youth & experience (clearly, as a 37yr old who’s worked here since 2004, I sit in both of these categoriesJ) and it really is so rewarding to be able to wake up every day looking forward to coming to work because I know I’m surrounded by like-minded people who share a vision. For a good few years after my appointment to the Board in 2010, I struggled with wanting to be all-knowing and to be seen as completely irreplaceable but I can confidently say that I’m now in a place where I accept plenty others are more skilled than me in various areas and that, for us to continue succeeding, we have to draw on a pool of skills from a variety of employees which is a huge advantage to be able to do so. As such, my biggest thanks goes out to ALL of my colleagues for each playing their part and the most exciting aspect is that we still have plenty of room for improvement.

I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas time and I hope everyone joins me in approaching 2020 with a positive attitude.

Owain

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