It's a sad day today as Grattan the giant of the British mail order companies announces job cuts.
Especially sad for me because I used to work in the Bradford office on the customer retention team. Grattan is an amazing place for anyone in marketing to hotbed their skills. You learn so much at such a quick pace a, because you have to and b, because there is an enormous wealth of skill and knowledge in the teams over there.
Thinking back there are people working at Grattan who had been there 30 years when I left around 4 years ago.
And maybe that is there downfall as well as their strength. Grattan and the associated brands, Freemans, Look Again etc where jut too big a ship to turn around.
It's odd when you think about it because mail order is the way that business is now going. Every company with a website takes orders online and delivers direct to your door just like Grattan has for over 100 odd years.
The problem is that their model for mail order, or the "Club Book" as it was know on my street when I was little, is based on people not being able to get credit. So one person in the area would be the agent for the Club Book and customers would pay that person in small weekly installments. The agent in return gets a commission.
All was well for Grattan until the advent of the credit card, then suddenly there's no need to get credit form the agent anymore.
This did so much damage to the traditional mail order companies like Grattan because their entire business model was built on having this credit system which they handled.
Even more of an irony now is that due to the credit crunch, the Grattan model should in theory be perfect again as people can't get the credit they could in the recent boom.
Unfortunately it would seem its too late for Grattan and that's a big shame.