The Smell of Bullshit, part 14: Lush and fresh – again

Another email from the same Lush employee who contacted me regarding Lush wages. This is the content of the latest email

I do have another point to make that I don’t know whether you would be interested in mentioning?
The words ‘Fresh’ and ‘Handmade’ don’t apply to the vast majority of Lush products anymore.  I’m sure they were once made by hand – we hear stories of when Lush first started from the dying embers of Cosmetics To Go, buying organic bananas from Sainsburys and making soap in drain pipes and cat litter trays (clean ones of course) – but these days the products are mass produced in huge quantities in huge factories and, as I have discovered from one of the replies in your blogs, Lush doesn’t even make their soap they just buy it in in vast quantities, melt it down, colour and scent it and send it back out again, so how is that handmade?
Surely it is something that Trading Standards would be interested in as it must be a breach of the Trades Descriptions Act.  A customer thinks they are getting a fresh, handmade product and find it is 3 months old, bought in and manufactured in a machine.
I hope the smell of bullshit keeps going.  It is an incredible vehicle for staff both current and ex to vent their feelings and tell the world how corrupt Lush is.  The comments seem to be drying up so I hope people are still reading it.
Once again, please don’t mention my name.  I am looking for another job but it’s not easy in this day and age.
Oh, and something else that may interest you, Mark Constantine’s daughter XXX is, as you probably know, manager of the flagship Covent Garden store.  (She got the job after the manager there was coerced into going to work at Head Office.  There were no interviews she just got given it).  But it was mentioned on facebook  that some stores had been approached by outside companies asking them to do training on customer service as Lush’s customer service is very good (which it is at a store level – as born out by the Which? award recently). The general consensus was that we wouldn’t share what we have so it’s extra special.  But not Covent Garden as this response shows:  At Covent Garden we got approached by Intercontinental Hotels (The group that runs Travelodge) about our high standards in customer service and wanted us to do a workshop in the shop. We even got them to make it interactive with team challenges and in the end we received a payment of £150 for doing it…it was a great day xx
Just shows they will do anything for money.
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5 thoughts on “The Smell of Bullshit, part 14: Lush and fresh – again

  1. Well I have to reply because I’ve had just about enough of reading fawning all over the place since the Constantines’ appearance on the BBC1 programme. It is of my opinion that these peoples’ talents do not lay in making ‘new’ and ‘innovative’ product but in their acting skills. What a load of tripe that was. What an utter fucking charade. I have never watched anything so wholly insincere as that programme, yet I kept watching to see how bad it got, a sort of morbid fascination. The whole thing was utterly sick making. Has Mr Jones seen how this man treats his customers? I wish someone had linked him to the International Forum beforehand so we can see what a wonderful human being he is (I felt ill typing that. If you didn’t guess, that was sarcasm).

    Talking of freshness, I had a lightbulb moment the other day. I opened a lovely pot of face cream made by a very small company. It was lovely. No preservatives, no nasty ingredients, a decent pot which held the contents well and had a little hygiene sticker on the lid (it’s in the detail, isn’t it?). And I thought “how can this tiny company make something so lovely for such a great price, and Lush can’t?”. It was everything Lush claims to be – fresh, hand made, had good ingredients and it was also natural (something Lush never claims to be, but something I believe it aspires to – i.e no preservatives or self-preserving product). And it was also an effective product (really beautiful in fact) that represented value for money, something I feel Lush hasn’t been for about 5 years. Then it hit me; what Lush are trying to do worked very well on a small scale, the products were fabulous years ago, as was the customer service, but as it has grown and grown and grown, these types of fresh products (made fresh, used fresh) don’t stand up to mass production and storage. Something’s got to give; so do you upscale fast for profits, or keep it a little smaller and keep quality? Looks like we know what they chose.

    Great business people and an ethical company? Not from what I can see. They can kiss my fat arse. Oh yeah, and I wonder why Mr Jones didn’t ask them about this £40M loan from Barclays which is all over the internet? Doesn’t sound like booming business to me.

  2. By the looks of it the programme was filmed before Christmas last year, probably around september, october (judging by the amount of Christmas products being made in the factory in the background – freshly made months in advance) So I think it was probably before the 40m loan thing came to light.

    I totally agree that Lush now goes for quantity over quality. At Lushfest 2011 Mark said he wanted to open 1000 stores worldwide by the time Mo was 60 – as a birthday present. So they just open shops wherever instead of thinking about where they should be and then, obviously, have to stock them so the 5 factories they have across the world are working flat out churning out stuff to fill these shops (all handmade of course!).

    Made me laugh during the programme when Mark said that people think they are an ethical business but he didn’t see it that way! You only have to look on the Lush website to see the words ‘ethic’ and ‘ethical’ banded about everywhere! In fact one of the windows recently had signage saying ‘The only way is Ethics’. So, no Mark, I’m sure you don’t see Lush as an ethical business. And nor do a lot of people now, who previously did, now they know all the dodgy things you have been getting away with just because staff love the smell of the products.

  3. When a company starts using ethics as marketing, it is no longer ethical.

    I’ve never seen them (the powers that be) as ethical, or fair. Either as a customer or as an employee. I just see them as a bunch of complete and utter ***** (add whatever 5 letter word you want there, so many fit, I can think of 3 good ones).

  4. I’m going to disagree. I make the soaps in one of the North American factories. We’ve started doing test batches at the Vancouver factory and I can tell you of the bat that we do not “just buy it in in vast quantities, melt it down, colour and scent it and send it back out again”

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