Tuesday, 25 February 2014

The Creation, Development of a successful small business initiative - Part3

 Part 3

MERCHANDISING and control of production levels and stocks

Our response to all these points was to create an individual merchandising technique which offered flexibility, utilising minimal floor/sales area, yet was capable of displaying a variable number of products, which could be merchandised with little or no disruption to the existing sales floor personnel To ourselves, the beauty of our envisaged “Elizabeth Cooke Nottingham Lace concept” was that the product range presented no risk to our manufacturing (standard batch sizes/quantities) for distribution to the individual sales outlets requirements. Yet these outlets were so varied in their individual activities, footfall, and clientele choices, we needed to answer the routine replenish of an outlets diminishing merchandise with stocks of the products sales which would become popular within their own individual location and customer activity levels    

Our problem was multi-fold –

First, we had to persuade the individual Distributor managements to trial our products.

Second and just as important, where and how the products could be located and merchandised within their existing, often limited, sales floor area.

Third who could be relied upon to ensure merchandising was always actioned regularly and effectively (with due regard to the effective positioning and replenishment) of each individual product best suited to sales potential of each differing, selected/nominated outlet

Forth How to ensure that each Merchandising location could be provided with their own relevant restocking routine 

Fifth Create a marketing/supply situation which functionally appealed to everyone, avoiding risks to all parties

Six Design a Sales Price/Profit margin and Payment Routine which was acceptable and removed risk to all parties    

The answer we arrived at, was quite unique..  ..  .. 

We suggested to  Distributors that

We provide/loan one “special” floor standing rotating merchandiser (requiring only ONE SQUARE M of floor space) delivered, fully stocked with our regular, routine merchandising within their premises.

Thus there was NO investment /risk to the Distributor (other than by thieving ) as the goods always belonged to ourselves

In return for this service our INVOICES against actual replenished sales - verified by the Distributors staff (at the time of merchandising) were ALWAYS paid promptly on a monthly basis

A WIN WIN situation for ourselves and each sales outlet ensuring that the important aspect of this total initiative provided both the Distributor and ourselves with agreeable/acceptable profits whilst removing the risk of investment in overstocking and wasteful cash flow .

We achieved al this this within the actual resources we created within our established Nottingham base

MOST IMPORTANTLY from our perspective this situation/agreement enabled us to schedule and produce batch quantities of each product, in the confidence that we would never “over manufacture” any one particular design - for the varying and cumulative sales levels of each Distributor ensured we could always balance the content of our product manufacturing with the flexible requirement of sales.

Now how did the sales and work-in-progress stack-up

We could achieve this quite easily by adding/subtracting/replacing the actual quantities of individual products on each individual merchandiser, thus catering for each individual /specific sales outlets demand.
A positive situation which could readily with accommodate any/most change in the overall/seasonal demand .

Here are several relevant  images

Part 4 to follow

You can see my latest "Online Store" offering GENUINE Nottingham Lace Tablecloths and Table Dressings DIRECT from the City of Lace 
 for all sizes and shapes of formal dining or leisure tables

"Elizabeths" most comprehensive collection of World Renowned, Genuine, Nottingham Lace 

32 classic & modern designs  incl "Cluny Lace", "Madras Lace" etc

 "All Cotton", Polyester  213 individual products to choose from incl 

Rectangular, Round, Runners, Place Mats, Coasters,Napkins


Monday, 3 February 2014

The Creation, Development of a successful small business initiative

"The Alvey's of Burton Joyce" ( www.brianalvey.co.uk)

"Elizabeth Cooke - Nottingham Lace " The story of the creation , development & history of a highly successful small business initiative into a national retailing project & the resulting demise created by a Foot & Mouth epidemic

The birth on "Elizabeth Cooke - Nottingham Lace" actually evolved from a promotional product design project undertaken for the English branch of the Italian company  - Golden Lady (Manufacturer of Ladies Hosiery) based in Huthwaite/Notts.

The company's English Managing Sales Director was looking for a small inexpensive  Nottingham Lace related "Give Away" incentive gift to accompany the launch of their Hosiery products in a major well known London Retail Store.

The reaction by the 259 lady consumers who received the "promotional gift" was so dramatic that my wife suggested she wanted to pursue the initiative further by designing and adding several other  "low value" Nottingham Lace products to a unique gift range for the tourist /visitor  market.

To achieved this -  " Elizabeth" approached several outlets in Nottingham to gauge their reaction. At this point the initiative was named “Georgio Romani” adopting a taste of the roman era within Burton Joyce.

 The next stage is still a little mysterious, in that we were approached to enter the products in the Nottinghamshire Tourist Authority to enter the range in the "Best of Nottinghamshire Product" competition.

 After several anxious weeks the event " Award " evening arrived, and to cut a long story short - our Nottingham Lace products ( Georgio Romani) were adjudged the winner amongst half a dozen or so others competitors
The very next day was if the world had suddenly become aware of the existence of our small Nottingham Lace interest , with press wanting to come and interview , Hodsock Priory and other  Historic Houses ringing up asking if they could sell our products. 
As a direct result of this initial interest it was decided to approach all local NT houses with a view to establish and consolidate our existence within the tourist sector. Every NT property we approached began to stock our product and achieved a small number of sales, however it quickly became obvious that there was a vital ingredient missing in our sales efforts – product merchandising

 Fortunately after a relatively short period we developed a unique SOLUTION  - this solution   spontaneously  developed and  was recognised by all our potential stockist as an effective  NO RISK WIN/WIN situation – a sales/merchandise offer which became impossible a genuine Gift Retailer to resist.

 Over the next couple of years we had established 141 retail outlets nationally all taking our goods when and which needed regular routine replenishments  - a scheme with ZERO redundant/obsolete stock for anyone 

First of all we realised that in order to create a successful small business in todays quick moving environment, we had to create a product or service with a unique selling point.

Regretfully the "FOOT an MOUTH" cattle decease and Tony Blair's decision to close the countryside down overnight created catastrophy for many small business as per ours 


However here is the background to our story and the thinking behind  our venture  

As per Bakewell Tarts, Melton Mowbray Pork Pies, Stilton Cheese, Devon Cream Scones, etc  Note all food products with repetitive purchasing habits

What did we have at out finger tips ?  – Sherwood Forest, Robin Hood, .Nottingham Lace. All these 3 are world renowned and attracted interest nationwide.

Our obvious choice was NOTTINGHAM LACE because our research showed that this product appeals to the adult tourist though out the entire UK in cities  & a multitude of visitor centres/attractions and souvenir outlets

So we had the product !! ..  ..   

our should we say we had direct legitimate access to the genuine/authentic fabric to create a product

What should the actual products  be.

Manufactured from genuine Nottingham Lace –
created locally –
be individual in design/concept –
be offered  at a sales price which attracts tourists of all ages –
be offered direct to retailers at a price/acceptable margin –
does NOT require retailers to invest in stock -  
does NOT require retailer to merchandise –
be part of a package which stimulates retailers to agree and meet  PROMPT monthly invoice  payments –
provided with a merchandising system which give flexibility to retailer WITHOUT demanding counter/wall space –
provide a WIN/WIN situation for both Retailer and Supplier –
be part of an integrated range of products appealing mainly to children, the younger generation and Adults –
and MOST IMPORTANTLY be  capable of being manufactured locally ( by outworkers within local villages) promptly and in quantities of 100 off or so
be created from genuine materials constantly available from a Nottingham source at a really attractive prices
be part of a product range of some 20 plus designs

There must also be further points also which did not immediately come to mind however


Eventually..   and with 141 OUTLETS NATIONWIDE

- including 6 Hotel Receptions ,3  Local Council Tourism Centres, plus numerous Visitor Attractions and least 4 local Motorway Service Stations. In a short time we had giftware at Belvoir Castle, Belton House, Clumber Park, Rufford Park, also within all 3 CentreParcs operations.

Our early success in persuading visitor centres/locations to sell our products, presented new hurdles for us to understand and overcome

Initially we difficulty in persuading Managers/Buyers to consider our products .

The problem arose with stock levels/replenishing/merchandising/payments/margins/ non-selling stock/delivery scheduling etc etc..    Insurmountable hurdles for the vast majority of new small businesses.  Or were they?

A further problem arose in establishing an acceptable “Merchandise spot” within specific sales floor. A “spot” which satisfied the individual Departmental Sales Manager/Assistant  ( These staff are aware of the existing highly rated/ preferential sales spots within their “patch” - areas which invariably produce consistently good levels of product sales. As a result they will not jeopardised these sales with the introduction of a new and unproven product in that spot.


However you can see one result our further progression into retailing 

            Genuine world renowned Nottingham Lace at www.englishlace.co.uk


Thursday, 16 January 2014

Elizabeth Limited Edition - "Signature Collection" Nottingham Lace Table Dressings

Elizabeth's "SIGNATURE" Table dressing

Elizabeth's unique "SIGNATURE" collection of Nottingham Lace Table Dressing can be created to suit customers precise requirements of shape and size

They are created from WHITE cotton or polyester centre, edged and trimmed with CREAM "Cluny" Lace .

The collections are restricted to a limited edition of 200 (numbered) sets only

Further details can be obtained by email  worldoflace@gmail.com

Sunday, 12 January 2014


Authentic QUALITY STREET  "Tweets"  - from Elizabeth

For all those who occasionally :-)  miss my "Quality Street" tweets  - re my genuine Nottingham Lace tablecloths

#NG1 Genuine Nottingham Lace Tablecloths R attractive/rare & NOT mass produced - DIRECT ONLY via the http://www.englishlace.co.uk  NOT the HIGH ST
#NG1 Genuine Nottingham Lace Tablecloths are not mass produced. Rare/excellent value/ exclusive 32 designs with historical name /location
#NG1 Another full year ahead choosing a gift of true unique individuality, distinction & quality & NOT available on the High Street - FACT
UNIQUE unchallenged ONLINE collection of GENUINE Nottingham Lace Tablecloths available DIRECT, free from Agent/Distributor financial costs
MOST comprehensive collection genuine Nottingham Lace Tablecloths & Dressings 32 designs /213 products ONLINE & available DIRECT Superb gift
#ng1 -Another description for "World Renowned" Nottingham Lace. "VINTAGE" Nottingham Lace is also relevant - visit http://www.englishlace.co.uk 
#NG1 Satisfy the urge to collect. Gifts with genuine intrinsic value & antique potential. 4 any occasion/event. See http://www.englishlace.co.uk 
#ng14 Case for being recognised as a genuine ANTIQUE in the "not- too-distant" future - see Worldoflace Blog -www.worldoflace.blogspot.co.uk

Single, Married, established couple Consider genuine "Nottingham Lace" as a LIFETIME gift for 2014 Valentines Day http://www.englishlace.co.uk 

Please follow me regularly - Thanks 

Thursday, 9 January 2014


NOTTINGHAM  LACE TABLECLOTHS  - The  Inevitable Antique ?


ANTIQUE  - Object of an earlier period- valued for its beauty, workmanship  - old fashioned

NOTTINGHAM LACE MARKET - Once the heart of the world's lace industry during the days of the British Empire, full of impressive examples of 19th century industrial architecture and thus a protected heritage area.
It was never a market in the sense of having stalls, but there were salesrooms and warehouses for storing, displaying and selling the lace. Most of the area is typical Victorian, with densely packed 4-7 story red brick building lined streets. Iron railings, old gas lamps and red phone boxes a plenty also help give the through walker a sense of going back in time to Victorian England
The Adams Building (now part of the City campus of New College Nottingham) was designed by Thomas Chambers Hine and was built for Thomas Adams, a notable Quaker who did much to improve the typical Victorian working conditions in his factories.
The area is sited on the area of the original Saxon settlement that became Nottingham, and also boasts the oldest Christian Foundation in the city, predating the Norman conquestSt. Mary's Church, on Low Pavement is believed to be the third church to have stood there but was itself completed in 1474 and is an excellent example of early English Perpendicular architecture.
Another fine piece of architecture in the Lace Market area is a warehouse designed by Watson Fothergill, a prolific local architect responsible for some 100 buildings in the area between 1870 to 1906. His work in the Gothic revival and Old English vernacular styles was very popular in Victorian times, and means that many shops, banks, houses and even churches are enlivened by turretsgargoylesmock Tudor beams and other distinctive features.   Accreditation  http://www.nottshistory.org.uk/images/titles/swinnerton1910title.gif
The Nottinghamshire hosiery industry was never so concentrated as Nottingham Lace. About 6ooo hands were employed by it in the city, and over 5000 in the neighbouring towns and villages, such as Mansfield, Arnold, Beeston, Hucknall Torkard, Ruddington, etc.
Until the sixteenth century every family made its own hosery.  In 1589 the Rev. William Lee of Calverton, near to Nottingham, invented a machine for making stockings.
 This machine came to be called the “stocking-frame” and could be driven and worked by one man. NOTTINGHAM  LACE TABLECLOTHS  - The  Inevitable Antique 

In 1851 there were about 8,000 men employed in the lace trade in the East Midlands and the southwest of England. At the height of the trade at the beginning of the 1900s, when machines were also worked in Scotland, more than 16,000 males were employed in the industry, the majority making lace. 

Female workers were in the minority in lace factories, and while men's hours were controlled by their shifts, those of women and children were controlled by the auxiliary tasks required. Until 1861 hours were completely irregular, for both women and children could be required to work at any time that the machines were running, although apparently the work only amounted to about 10 hours in every 24. 

Lace left the factories in the large webs of unfinished cotton or silk up to 420 inches wide and 50 yards long. From these the black lead needed to be removed, and they needed to be bleached, dyed, dressed and be subjected to a number of other processes to convert them into finished lace acceptable to the public, whether it was a one inch breadth or edging, curtain or tablecloth, or hat veiling, mittens or shawl. All finishing processes were centred in and around Nottingham and all were labour intensive. 

By far the largest majority of workers employed in lace finishing were female. Conditions in the many dyeing, dressing rooms and warehouses of Nottingham were frequently singled out for criticism by the Employment Commissions of the 1800s, even though the strongest strictures were reserved for conditions among the outworkers. Tuberculosis and poor eyesight were just two of many occupational hazards. Dyeing employed mostly males, the dressing rooms mostly female. Particular attention in the 1800s was focussed on the poor conditions in the dressing rooms which often had low ceilings and were heated to temperatures frequently above 100 degrees so that diseases incidental to those exposed to high temperatures were common. 
Many warehouses in the Nottingham Lace Market were conversions of dwelling houses of the 1700s and working conditions were usually poor. However, even the purpose-built warehouses in the Lace Market, such as those of Thomas Adams, were criticised as being ill-ventilated and overheated. Although Adams did provide daily chapel services and he and others were praised for the dining halls and adequate toilet and washing facilities for their mostly female employees. 
From 1800 normal warehouse hours were 8am to 8pm, six days a week, although these often extended to midnight in busy periods, and by 1860s a half day on Saturday was more frequent. Fortunately for warehouse employees at the beginning of the 1860s the time of the last luggage train to London was changed so that parcels had to be at the station by 7pm, previously it had been four the following morning. In addition the few male employees were expected to protect the warehouse, to the extent of sleeping there one week in every three. 

However the worst conditions occurred in the workshops and private houses used in outworking and in this poorly-paid section of lace finishing women, children and young persons continued to work long, irregular hours in unhealthy and overcrowded positions into the 1900s. 
The lace Bagman or outworker mistress would collect work from a warehouse at an agreed price and then would either distribute it out to other women - the second and third-hand mistresses - or assemble a group in her own home. In 1842 children as young as two or three did outwork, although by 1862 the average starting age had risen to about eight years old. 

Before the advent of patterning by the machine more than 20,000 women and children embroidered the net, those who ran in the pattern being called the lace runners. Later mending, separating the lace, (drawing), and cutting out surplus threads, (scalloping or clipping and cropping), became more usual. 

Work was seasonal, and during a 'rush job' finishers would work through the night; prams filled with lace could be seen going to and from the warehouses at all hours. The number engaged in lace outwork was given as 5,016 in 1907 but the true number will never be known because from oral evidence it would seem that often all members of a family, from grandparents to schoolchildren, would contribute to the family income with lace outwork. 
However horrifying the hours and conditions of work in the lace industry may seem from a 21st Century point of view in the 19th Century machine-made lace work was considered better than other industries. 

Males had a definable career structure and training and a comparatively high level of remuneration compared to many occupations. And, even though for females there was little scope for advancement and their low remuneration and poor working conditions attracted unfavourable comment, yet in 1833 the hours of seven and eight year old warehouse girls were considered better than those of factory children as they were more regular, usually from 8am to 1pm and 2pm until 6pm, with an hour off for lunch. 
Attributation of much text to : Sheila A. Mason, BA (Hons), FRSA

There is little doubt that all things being equal there is little or no chance that the techniques and demands within the 1800 to mid 1900 “cannot/will not” be tolerated nor used in the present nor future centuries.  Therefore it is MORE PROBABLE than POSSIBLE in my opinion that eventually present day and older “Genuine World Renowned Nottingham Lace” products will actually become accepted as a genuine ..  ..  ..  ..  ..  ..  ..
Brian Alvey 09/01/2014