Monday, December 04, 2006


In March this year, this happened. And not so long back, this happened.

And today, this.

Next time you walk down the high street wearing your ethical 'I spend £35 on a t-shirt' t-shirt, munching your ethical Fruit 'n' Nut, and wafting unsuspecting passers-by with the smell of your Community Traded Strawberry Cheesecake face cream, ask yourself who benefited from the radicalness being surgically removed from your radical product.

Was it the workers, the producers, the farmers, the shop assistant?

Or was it the faceless Shareholder and the red-faced-yet-somewhat-richer former Radical who is now hoisted upon the sofa of every cuddly daytime tv show as the 'rich-but-holy' saint?

Weep once again for the society we have refused to build and the opportunity we have lost in the service of the great god Mammon.

[1) I am not the best businessman that ever lived. Far from it and approaching the booby prize, in fact.
2) I appreciate that those I mentioned above have built successful businesses. I am not knocking successful businesses.]



Blogger Karin said...

That's what happens to human beings.

These people didn't get successful overnight, so maybe one day you'll have a successful company and get an offer you'll be tempted to accept, even if you reject it in the end, but if you're close to retirement age and worried about your pension or whatever, maybe you'll accept.

I don't know much about Howies or Timberland, but maybe companies have to grow or go bust, or be forced to sell out. Perhaps that's how it works. I don't know. Maybe they really had no choice.

But yeah, it is sad when companies founded on ethical principals get eaten by the sharks.

2:30 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

I don't believe that this is only the way.

It is only like this because someone somewhere is more interested about money-in-the-pocket than ethics in the final analysis.

2:48 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

i'm gutted, re. feels like my favourite independent coffee shop has been taken over by starbucks.

1:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

maybe you should take a look at the detail of the 'takeover'. the howies owners chose who to sell part of their business to, and they chose based on principles they have stuck to when growing their business. maybe when you've remortgaged your house twice to raise money for your company when you have young children you'd be in a different position when a company believes it what you're doing offers you money to provide security and a chance develop your passion, who knows?

having watched their story unfold, its not the first time they've been offered money for howies, so i think its a bit more than seeing the pound signs before their eyes.

1:38 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

anonymous, thanks for your comment.

This isn't about me - Howies clearly have more business sense than I have in my little finger. However I have mortgaged my house for my business and I have worked unpaid for several years and visited warzones.

As I have indicated, I already have a problem with the Howies model (ie the high price), but I am willing to accept that they know more about their market than I do.

I am sad that the only option people seem to see is to sell to a corporation, and I see no evidence of that being anything other than greenwash. They could have done worse, just as Green and Blacks could have done worse than selling to Cadbury's.

But that isn't the point. They could have done far, far better.

2:20 AM  
Blogger Michael Radcliffe said...


Its all very well to say that they need the cash to continue the business, but there are ways, and there are ways.

Howies latest deal is not the problem, it just opens up the door to a lot of compromise.

There's this indie idea that business is bad, or that dealing with big business is "selling out" which is pure nonsense, but what has happened with Howies is not the wisest move they have ever made.

11:19 AM  

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