So it is 2019, not sure where 2018 went but I think that is a sign of old age! I am conscious that there are many reasons why people read the blog so my update on 2018 will comprise a business statement and a personal update please feel free to skip the part you are not interested in.
So for the ‘CEO statement’. It hasn’t been an easy year with both the very hot summer and England’s extended stay in the world cup having a negative effect on trading. Not showing football means that we don’t benefit from the world cup and the extended interest acts to draw spending away and prolong the period before we see a bounce back in spending.
The hot weather is, to some degree, counter-intuitive but again comes down to available resource. A lot of the good weather hit before the school holidays which meant more weekends were available for family excursions which reduced available funds. Some reports say that we headed into September with the highest levels of personal debt for some time so again rebound is slow.
Christmas trading has been steady but without the peak days we would hope to see, this is mostly caused by where it falls in the week. Overall Christmas has been OK but it has certainly been a marathon rather than a sprint. From next year Christmas starts to swing towards the end of the week which is better for the licensed trade.
So 2018 has been a relatively flat year and the predictions for 2019 are poor. The Plough is well placed to weather the storms ahead and increased capacity from the garden works will enable us to better capitalise on any summer weather.
That’s the business bit done. I remain fiercely proud of the pub and what we are building here. The Plough is certainly an established brand now and people know what to expect here and what is expected of them. I hear on a regular basis how welcoming the pub is and how comfortable people feel here so we are doing something right.
We go into 2019 with Ellie firmly adopted as Plough family so along with Nick I am extremely lucky to have two fantastic people who share my passion for the Plough. The garden is on track to be finished for the summer, albeit with the traditional last big push and mad dash to the finish line.
I have now passed two years without leaving Shanklin and have no pressing desire to change that situation. I remain happy in the little bubble that is Plough life despite, or possibly because of, the huge demands the old lady makes on me. My working week remains around 130 hours so well below BT and well above normal guidelines.
I am still frustrated by my progress in some areas but I do realise that this is an inevitable consequence of the scale of the task and the resource available. I have always believed that slow and steady progress is better for the business and engages people more and I stand by that. There is a clear sense of ownership amongst the Plough customers and they are the first to tell new visitors of the work that has been done or is ongoing, hearing their pride is a marvellous thing.
So we are building something great here and I love that. My most important metric remains that, on occasions, I still stand in a closed pub and smile, I smile because I love what I do and where I do it. As the old adage goes ‘if you love what you do you will never work a day in your life’.
Here is to a great 2019!