Monday, January 12, 2009

A Tough Decision

Last Friday at the Big Green Bookshop, I sent an email to all our stores to let them know that we'd be making an official announcement, and that all staff should be in today at 10am. A password protected email ws sent to us and we would be given the password before the announcement was made.
Tim and I dutifully turned up this morning (obviously we were quite nervous). I sent an email with the password to myself and we opened the message.

The message read.

'I am speaking to you from my private island in the Carribean and apologise for not being there in person.
As the Big Green Bookshop continues to progress and embrace new technology and systems, we will inevitably have to make some tough decisions. Some of these will be welcomed with open arms (my big fat bonus last year for example, and also my nomination in the Bookseller for Hero of the Year), but others will be questioned. However in order to progress, we.. sorry, you have to be brave.
As you know, we will shortly be introducing a new biscuit rota, in which instead of all of us buying biscuits from lots of different places, including local shops and smaller but better quality biscuit producers we will now buy all our biscuits from Lidl. The range will be worse and the quality of the packing will no doubt lead to lots of damaged biscuits, but the savings we can make at the expense of others will be massive. I've no doubt by making this decision, i'll be getting another fat bonus this year too.
This unfortunately means that those of you who unpack the various packets of biscuits now will no longer be required to do this. Over the next 3 months there will be a consultation period in which we will endeavour to find other jobs for you to do (overseeing the washing up rota for example), however there may now be periods of the day when you will have to sit in the office and play pacman instead.
I realise that when we told you initially about the biscuit rota changes, it was stressd that this was being introduced to free more time up to deal with customers and 'get selling'. But I didn't think I would be getting as big a bonus if you this happened, so I changed my mind. To be honest, i'm surprised any of you noticed.
Please let me stress once again that I got a huge bonus last year, and am likely to get another one this year too.
Wish you were here...'

Tim and I are speculating what effect this will have on our teabreaks and morale is really low at the moment. But i'm sure the powers that be have our best interests at heart......oh, and our customers of course.


Anonymous said...

sorry didnt like the post, so i guess i'll have to use the off button for a while (not that this will give you sleeplees nights I'm sure)
I feel for the people who are under threat, but it shouldnt really be that much of a surprise. I work for a fashion retail business but my wife is a bookseller at Waterstones and she has known for about a year that goods in was likely to go. This doesnt make it any easier but look at it this way would you create job for someone who doesnt like serving customers and never wants to be on the shop floor if htere was nothing else for them to do. The numbers I've heard are 200. out of 4500 doesnt seem as drastic as other retailers zavi woolies even M and S.
I'm not the sure the 1 yr ago you said .... holds up (everyone was reporting yr on yr growth and about to have a bumper jan - and there was some strange issues in the us with sub prime loans whatever that meant

A year ago my wife was earning bonus (not massive - but COEs get big bonuses if they deliver growth fact of life and my guess id Gjohnsons bonuses are in share options or something which probably arent worth alot at the moment by looking at retail share prices)


longcat said...

overthrow the fascist fatcats x

didntwanttodothis said...

Hmmm...goods-in folk are people "who don't like serving customers and never want to be on the shop floor" are they, Jez? I'm going to have to disagree with you on that one, I'm afraid. Through 3 major book-chains and over more years than I care to admit to (oh, go on then, you've twisted my arm, nearly 20) I've found the goods-in person is usually the most knowledgeable, the most helpful and one of the most useful booksellers you could work with. And they really, honestly, didn't mind if you asked them to help on a till occasionally. Also nobody would be asked to create a job for them - as a current Waterstones employee I can guarantee there's more than enough work if they were offered the chance to move to the shop floor. That's one of the most grating things about this - the likely loss of someone who's most probably one of the best people you've got working in your shop. As for the figure of 200 - well, let's keep fingers crossed that's all it is.
Anyway. Rant over. Simon, continue to use your ex-Waterstones experience to keep us amused and angry in equal measure, and be prepared for those cv's to start flooding in... ;)


adam said...

One of my favourite times working in a bookshop was 6 months of Goods-In at the Islington Waterstones. You get to have a good look at every book that's coming into the shop, occasionally go on the shop floor and you could have the radio on to boot. Happy times.