It is now two years – and two chief executives – since the launch of Halfords’ “Getting Into Gear” three-year plan, a plan that was singled out by Management Today for playing “host to some of the most corny corporate language on the planet” (from an exceptionally strong field).
The document promised to introduce an “H Factor” to Halfords while aiming to reassert “the business’s proposition authority to Support Drivers of Every Car, Inspire Cyclists of Every Age and Equip Families for Their Leisure Time”.
Anyway, when Jill McDonald got the top job at the retailer a year ago, she did not rewrite this plan, but added a few flourishes of her own, with a sequel called (wait for it) “Moving Up a Gear”.
The enhancements by McDonald focused on customer service – her area of expertise – with the bike and car accessories retailer saying it would gather more data from its customers in an effort to get them to spend more. There was also a commitment to focus on exclusive deals, plus some much-needed modernisation for its stores.
All of which brings us to this week, when the retailer announces full-year results. The chat will be about the group’s move into the upmarket cycling sector with the acquisition of Tredz, and how McDonald’s first year has gone. Is she moving up or missing the gears, as Halfords might put it?
Jenkins steps up to another podium
Antony Jenkins, the rather colourless former boss of Barclays, is not an obvious raconteur. No matter. He seems to be more in demand on the speaking circuit than he currently is in his old trade.
We get another chance hear the Peter Ustinov de nos jours this week when he speaks at Chartered Accountants Hall “on the future of financial services and the importance of values in banking and fintech”.
“This is an opportunity to hear from a high-profile industry insider on issues on which he has expressed firmly held, and sometimes controversial, views,” the bumf for the event gushes.
More likely what they mean is “yet another opportunity”. Earlier this month Jenkins appeared at a House of Commons event when he revisited his favoured theme of “turning values into value”.
What rarely gets mentioned is that before Jenkins became a crusading chief executive of Barclays, he had been in the driving seat of the high-street part of that bank as it merrily sold payment protection insurance (PPI) to people who never needed it or could have claimed on it. Odd that.
Back to the daily grind at Sports Direct
Another week, another chance for Mike Ashley to have a row with MPs on the business, innovation and skills select committee, who have summoned him to appear next month to talk about working conditions at the firm’s Derbyshire warehouse.
You’ll recall Ashley said he would attend on 7 June, but only if the MPs agreed to come for a presumably whitewashed visit to the facility the day before. They declined that invitation last week – so Ashley said he would consult with lawyers. We all look forward to their response.
Still, Ashley’s mouthpiece, Keith “The Bishop” Bishop, has been keen to extend similar invitations to inspect the facilities to anyone else who might fancy a trip to the Midlands. He included this page – seemingly unaware that we had spent a few days toiling undercover at the very same warehouse before Christmas.
Anyway, as it seems in vogue to attach conditions before accepting these calls, we have agreed to show up, but only in return for an audience with the reclusive Ashley.
“Shall we say 6 June for that interview with Mike in Shirebrook?” we asked, after the MPs had declined. “He has a spare slot that day now.” Strangely, the Bishop seems to have taken a sudden vow of silence.
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