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Future-proofing your Wine Society


#1

[From Society News May 2019].

I found the above piece by CEO Steve Finlan difficult to understand.

Vague talk of modernisation with no detail.

We ‘cannot rely on…a loyal band of wine lovers’ but ‘we do not feel a need to dramatically increase the size of the membership.’ What does this say about the membership? More (but not lots more) members needed?

It is ‘important we grow sustainably to allow us to invest’. A worrying statement since it suggests TWS is short of cash.

We ‘need to adapt to a more diverse membership’ - what does that mean?

In short - lots of waffle with, despite the headline, nothing about future-proofing.


#2

Is this on line? I haven’t received anything in the post. I tried a search on the website, but couldn’t even fine old editions.


#3

It means less elderly white men


#4

In a mail out today.


#5

Mine arrived in the post yesterday.


#6

Thank you. Mine has not arrived today, but I usually hear about mailings here first.
Normally, however, it is then possible to find the documents on the website. Does anyone know where, if at all, the newsletter appears? I have downloaded the annual review and accounts: although the review starts with a lot of waffle about how mutual the Society is, it only includes summary financial figures; the full financial accounts have to be downloaded separately.


#7

Mine came yesterday and I felt pretty much the same as you @Richard - all a bit waffley. I didn’t like the sound of another line that said something like “members might not like new recruitment directions” or so, it’s an odd way of phrasing it.

Not against the society growing of course and we need more younger members to keep it going (at 33 I try and encourage others to join but my friends are either too far gone to Natural wine or not quite into it enough for the society).


#8

Just a thought, but I wonder if this is referring to some negative noises which were made about the Golden Bottle…? Not everyone was happy with that particular recruitment drive, so perhaps it’s acknowledging that.

Still, can’t please everyone all the time - and recruiting new members should definitely be on the agenda.


#9

Ditto, read and it went straight into corporate speak, all about not standing still but nothing about how the Society will move on other than recruiting unspecified new ‘diverse’ groups, he doesn’t like the demographics !
“! We’ll be trying out some new initiatives this year to attract new members; you may not like all of them and if that is the case, I am sorry. But bear with us, it is important to try. If they work; great. If they don’t work, we’ll take a fresh look.”
Nobody minds change as long as it is for the good, not for the sake of it, this says nothing


#10

A strange conclusion to draw. Growing sustainably is what we have done from 1874. Delving into the financial statements online, you will see that we have plenty of cash - it’s how we can invest in new assets and resource in the coming years.


#11

Hehe… you could easily read that as “you may not like all of the new members” rather than the “new initiatives.”


#12

In fact, ties in very nicely with the happy news :+1: :grinning:


#13

Agreed. Nothing in that to suggest it is short of cash, and a quick look at the last accounts would prove the contrary.


#14

On home page - see below, circled in blue - has been there since 26th April.

Edit: Oops! Just noticed you meant the News, not the annual report! Sorry! We include content from the News in our Discovery section, rather than the whole SocietyNews.


#15

Thanks all for the comments. First I can assure you that we are not short of cash. Second, it is quite apparent that we will need to invest in better systems, a better website and additional warehouse capacity. For example, without the ability to tailor communications, I have discovered that we get broadly a 50/50 like/dislike response to most of what we do ! The article was simply to suggest that we will need to be more experimental as we embark on the next phase of The Society’s evolution and to bear with us while we are doing it - the aim is to improve your experience as current and future members - and in doing so we will future proof the business and, of course, continue to “Champion The Joy Of Good Wine”


#16

Good to know. Your phrase ‘allow us to invest’ suggested that there might be a constraint on investment.


#17

We are presenting our strategy to The Committee in June, so more to come on plans and investments; but the reality of any strategy is to make clear choices and prioritise carefully. I am very cogniscant of the need for both !


#18

Growing turnover does not always equate to growing cash reserves…in fact, it can sometimes lead to the opposite as working capital is squeezed. Not in this case though!


#19

Thinking about “modernise” and “evolve”; not really the same. If we get a new system we are modernising. But to me evolution implies some change in our nature, for example growing wings. Nothing too alarming about modernising, but if we are going to evolve it raises the question “Into what?”.


#20

Interesting to note that the DB pensions deficit has again reduced significantly and is now less than £1m. Even more interesting is the footnote advising that there has been a move to increase the hedging of interest rate and inflation risk in the liabilities…which makes sense, and something I commented on this time last year…that thread closed now to make way for the 2019 one.

This means that the funding movements in the scheme are likely to become less volatile on a year by year basis, so likely to be less risk to the balance sheet from that source in future, another aspect of future proofing…