“Too much tea, Sir” – The conclusion

So there I was, the self made King of Tea in the Falkland Islands!  I slunk off to my bunk at the Officers’ Mess and stopped by the pigeon holes to check mail.  A single white envelope addressed to me, no stamp.  In it was a single tea bag – news traveled fast and I knew I was in for it – victim of Forces Humour!  It continued.  At the bar that evening I was offered a drinks selection – Bar Man’s specials – various tea concoctions and at dinner, yes, you’ve already guessed, “Tea Sir?” delivered with a hardly concealed snigger.  Many people no doubt consider some forces humour extreme, maybe offensive, certainly non PC.  Tough, it is how we used to cope with severe stress and anxiety when there was no where to run.  Training helps of course but the ‘black humour’ helped enormously.  Even so, some who really ‘went through it’ ended up with PTSD or worse.  Lucky me: I was just ribbed for months about tea!

Well I got rid of the tea, or rather Pat Knox did: I said he was good.  I was told I could not sell it to the Falkland islands people becuase it would upset their civilian supply system.  It was way above my write-off authority and there was too much to drink by far before it ran out of shelf life.  Pat Knox to the rescue.  He somehow flagged down a passing Royal Fleet Auxiliary and got them to take and sign for the surplus – off my books and me off the hook.  Seriously, this issue taught me some very useful lessons that would come in very handy for my next postings to Germany and then Hong Kong (luxury) but at the time I felt like a right muppet!

Back to the present day.  Here I am with a growing business and similar logistic issues.  So what lessons are there and what can I do?  I appreciate that there are many logistic and provisioning experts out there so anyone with hints and tips, please do drop me a line.  The problem is this: M&G have a very broad portfolio of product.  Many of these are made for other brands as we have mentioned before, a real ‘feather in the cap’.  As dealers, wholesalers and retailers find those products that fit their particular niche we suddenly have a run on demand for the lines in question.  How do we predict this?  Can we predict it and have enough stock so as not to run out?  In effect we have insufficient history to stock to a high level with confidence and not be overstocked.  The added complication is the 5 week restock time from China.  No quick fix if we run out!  Add to that constant pressure on cash flow, so high speculative stock levels are really not an option.  Maybe we are being too cautious at present, particularly with the 36g glue stick which is really very good (cures to a very strong fix) and extremely competitive on price.  I suppose the big question is this, does anyone have a ready made answer, software etc to help.  If so, please do let me know.

By the way, if you love wildlife in the wild, then visit the Falkland islands – amazing.  I spent one night alone in a bivvy bag in an Albatross colony, met Elephant Seals up close, several different species of Penguin (very smelly), Sea Skuas and Sea Lions (kept my distance with these critters). Wonderful.  The featured image was one of these magnificent sea birds.  They rarely if ever saw humans so did not consider me an enemy and besides, with that Beak – I’d not have picked a fight!  This shot was actually taken from a respectful distance of 20m with a telephoto lens so as not to cause distress.  Even so, that’s close.

Anyone for tea?