There's a bit of a buzz in the atmosphere here at Laithwaites HQ. A fortnight ago Laithwaites was voted the winning company in the Food and Drink Category at the annual ECMOD (European Catalogue and Mail Order Days) awards. Much to my pleasure (and embarrassment) I was given a Lifetime Achievement Award. More on that later.
Firstly, let me explain who ECMOD (not the most romantic of acronyms!) are. They are the body that represent home shopping companies, and apart from giving top tips to those in the business, they also hand out rewards to those of us they judge to be the best in the industry.
But it’s not really the award that we're interested in (although it’s very flattering to have). It's you. I've always believed that top quality, great value wine should be accessible to us Brits. Accessible means that buying the stuff should be as hassle free as possible – it’s not a mortgage you’re after.
As you're reading this online, you've obviously discovered the joys of shopping for wine on the net – no queues, no over-eager shop assistants constantly quizzing you about whether you need any help – and, hopefully, just like wine itself, it's an interesting, FUN experience!
And I'm proud to say that, from what you tell us, ordering from Laithwaites, whether online, by post or over the phone, is enjoyable and hassle-free. We do get it wrong sometimes, but we’ll always try, very hard, to make it right.
So it's very, very rewarding to be recognised for our efforts by the Direct Mail industry as a whole. I hope that you can be proud of us, too. After all, without you, we wouldn’t be here. It’s your enthusiasm for Laithwaites that keeps the whole thing going. Thank you for your support. We promise to keep doing just what we’re doing.
Now to my personal award ... Like I said on the night, thanks for the honour but 'Lifetime' sounds awfully final. I did have plans for next week but guess now ... that's it!
No need to worry about me though because, happily my old age coincides with the dawning of the Direct Age' here in Britain. My declining years will not be spent shoving any wonky trolley round a supermarket. I will not be queuing hours to have my money taken. The Supermarket By-Pass is built. We DM folk built it. And it’s lovely.
They said the men in white coats would come for me one day. And indeed they have. Nice young chaps deliver my fish straight off the boat, my beef comes direct from Scotland and my Lamb from the Lakes. The wine seems to come every other day! But then I am a Professional. The clothes, the computery thingy bits and bobs, the books; vans come all the time.
Maybe I'll never have to smell another multi-storey stairwell in my life.
We are customers again. We are getting service. The High Street may be stuffed, and that is very sad, but at least buying stuff (a huge part of us oldies daily lives) is beginning to be fun again.
Advice for the Industry? Maybe it might be better if there were fewer vans going round. Does every product need its own van? Co-operation would be good and just maybe save the planet?
I love my wine but I also love this industry. The moment those first replies come in and you know you've got a result is as much a moment to savour as any first sip of fresh Sauvignon.
So thanks DM, for all the fun. And the award.