Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Saveloys save the planet!

A new deal for Dickson's

Little do we know it but the humble saveloy sandwich produced for donkey's years by M.I. Dickson's of South Shields is about to become, in a small way, an environmental savoury saviour!

Generations of South Shields children have been brought up enjoying the delights of the saveloy, I first experienced it as a toddler when Dickson's operated from a large shop near the bottom of Fowler Street, South Shields just a few doors down from the old St. Thomas' church (almost opposite the Northern Rock Building Society these days). The saveloy was always offered to youngsters either with the skin on, or with the skin removed, then placed in the small hands of the toddlers wrapped in doubled over paper, deliciously hot, and ready to enjoy. I doubt if I know anyone from South Shields who has not been through this ritual.

Now, of course, the saveloy is presented in a sandwich with pease pudding, stuffing, and mustard too - Dickson's sell thousands around the North-East every week to hungry workers snatching a quick sustainance at meal and break times. Dickson's factory at Middlefields, South Shields, produces around eight to ten tons of these sausages every week and supply schools, hospitals, butchers shops, delicatessens and their own chain of shops. The company was founded in 1953 by the current Managing Director Michael Dickson's father and now employs over 250 staff.

The good news for the saveloy, and the environment, is that Dickson's have recently been awarded a contract to supply supermarket giant Asda, as they attempt to bring their customers more local produce in their stores. Dickson's saveloys should now be available at Asda stores in South Shields, Boldon, Washington, Gosforth, and the Metro Centre at Gateshead. The close proximity of the product and the supply chain will result in greatly reduced "food miles" and a positive contribution to the carbon emissions produced by Asda's logistics network.

This should be enough to please South Shields MP and Environment Secretary David Miliband, who recently had a meeting with heads of Britain's supermarkets (Tesco, Asda, Morrison's, and Sainsbury's) to agree their contributions to reducing waste, packaging, diesel usage, food miles, carrier bags, and other environmentally damaging aspects of their operations. It is not known if Mr. Miliband's son is fed with saveloys!

So that's the good news for Dickson's, Asda, and Miliband, now unfortunately this has to be balanced by the bad news - M.I.Dickson's still provide one of the worst shopping experiences that a customer can suffer!

Call into any branch on any morning of the week and you will need to join a long queue to be shouted at by the staff. NEXT?........WHAT CANNA GET YUH?..... NO YER IN THE WRANG QUEUE.......SANDWHICHES HERE, MEATS OVER THERE!
These "greetings" will be proferred by two of the six or seven members of staff, the others will be wandering around the back shop chatting amongst themselves and preparing more products to put behind the counter. The one wearing the white pork pie hat is the manager/manageress and will not be seen leading from the front or helping out at the counter.

Call into ANY branch after 2.30 in the afternoon and you will get the unmistaken impression that they are ready to close! Some of the part-time staff will already have left after the lunch-time rush, the counters and chillers will be almost empty, the remaining stocks will have been stored into overnight fridges, and the remaining staff will be washing and cleaning the units ready for the next day! Apparently they don't need our custom in the afternoons.

Curly, having had over thirty years of retail experience, in a high profile management capacity in FMCG environments, will gladly assist M.I.Dickson's if they wish to improve the customer's experience in their shops, and improve their sales and profitability at the same time. My salary requirements will not be huge and the investment will reap great rewards fro them, they only need to give me a call!

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