The Smell of Bullshit, part 15: Peter Jones meets

Here on the iPlayer http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p00v2bw3/Peter_Jones_Meets…_Series_1_Episode_1/ Peter Jones talks to Mark and Mo Constantine about Lush.

Interesting to see Mark say that the products have a 12 month life cycle and have to be made and sold quickly, when we know things sit around for months.

Interesting to see them talk about environmental principles given they’re having a private swimming pool built. Weird to see them talking about reducing packaging to reduce waste when they still have the shower jellies.

Hilarious to see them talk about how caring they are towards their staff. They asked staff what it was like to work for Lush – as Mark and Mo were standing there. Are you really going to say “I hate it, they’d awful” as the high heid yins stand right next to you? Are you really going to say “their employment practices are well dodgy” knowing it’ll be broadcast on telly and you’ll be sacked for it? And as for the wish lists – that’s just to give them something to sound good in the media and to partly compensate for the appalling salaries with something “unique” – for the favoured few.

Mo – teaching Peter Jones how to make ballistics without wearing gloves.

Mark – I’m not good on detail. Is that why he hasn’t listened to years of customer complaints about faulty products?

Mark and Mo’s seriously green credentials? Really? As they import fruit and veg from around the world to make cosmetics?

How they use their money? They’re sitting there telling Peter Jones they either use it themselves or they give it to other people to do good works with. Mark once told someone on a factory visit that he uses the profits from Lush to ferry fish and chips to his parents. Fair enough, he can use his own money however he wants, but they aren’t addressing basic things like a living wage for their staff. Shouldn’t adequately rewarding the staff who made you rich come first? No mention either of the £40 million loan they’ve just had from Barclays.

Mark – I’m driven by what my customers like but not by what they want. How does that even make sense? Is he implying customers want things they don’t like and like things they don’t want? I suppose he might mean he will make more of what sells and stops selling things that don’t sell even if some customers clamour for it, but even that doesn’t really make sense as obviously people want the things they buy (until they get them home and realise they’re shit).

Cosmetics to Go lost £1 every time they sent out an order, used up £9 million and didn’t make any profit, and eventually went bust. Mo felt “somewhere between raped and robbed” – nothing hyperbolic there, given that limited companies protect the company directors from personal insolvency, and the collapse was entirely due to their lack of business knowledge.

Mark saying all the ideas come from them, although many come from other founders, other staff, and plenty from the forum users.

Mark saying “we try hard to present an honest face” – well, I think the Smell of Bullshit posts in this blog make it clear how much of that is a facade rather than an honest face. If you watched Peter Jones Meets.. knowing nothing about the company, it’s easy to be fooled. But knowing what I do, knowing what employees have told me, seeing what’s happened on the forum and experiencing the deteriorating in quality of the products myself – well, it doesn’t fool me.

 

 

 

 

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7 thoughts on “The Smell of Bullshit, part 15: Peter Jones meets

  1. the comment about rape made me want to punch her full in the face. she has no idea what it feels like to be raped or she’d STFU

  2. I also thought that it was a very stupid naiive thing to say. Can she speak from personal experience of either because I know that losing a business is nothing like being raped or robbed.

    It just shows what a blind sighted, ignorant, uncaring, unthinking, insincere person she is. A fish rots from the head and Lush is truly rotten.

  3. Speaking of Cosmetics to Go Mark said, “We weren’t good business people, we were arrogant, ”

    No change there then…

    And as well as the ridiculous ‘raped or robbed’ analogy, Mo likened losing CTG to ‘losing a child’ She is totally clueless. God forbid anything really bad happens to this woman, she’d implode!

  4. I saw it and it is my opinion that they are not very bright people. I believe that they are not as creative or as business savvy as they think they are. The more I read about them and their company on the web, in the papers and elsewhere, I have come to think that their real talent has come in the marketing of themselves as something which is possibly the complete opposite of their true nature. It is to do with having too much misdirected belief in your own creative ‘genius’. They say they learnt lessons from the collapse of their first business, it sounded like rehearsed lines trotted out. They want to believe they have, but the state of their shops tells me they haven’t.

    I have theories about ‘creative’ people in general. There are ‘creatives’ who surround themselves with people who do the hard work for them – many creatives do just that, come up with the idea and get others to do the donkey-work. Grand old painters did it, fashion designers do it. It’s not new, and it’s not always a bad thing – we can’t all be multi talented. But sometimes the huge gap between ‘creative’ and ‘business’ can start to widen and become strained, especially if the former has little or no respect for the latter.

    When common sense from the genuine hard-workers (the ‘brains’, the people who Just Get The Job Done) gets too much, creatives may bully them out of the company (but make up excuses in their heads as justification, and believe their own stories) as it’s easier to do that than do the adult thing like listen, discuss and take stock. As quite often creative people don’t hold high regard for sensible things like policies or procedures, or pesky stuff like Employment Law, they won’t have had performance management in place so get rid of the sensible, hardworking, perhaps ‘tricky to deal with’ staff (because, let’s face it, admitting you’re wrong and don’t know how to run a business is tricky, isn’t it?) so they may harass them into resigning or force them out another way, and then usually silence them. Then replace them with another sensible person who will continue to warn them about making mistakes, and they will eventually go too. What you’re left with is a bunch of ‘wacky’ people who can’t run a piss up in a brewery, but do believe their own hype.

    That’s how some creative people run businesses. That’s also how creative people lose businesses. That’s how, from what I’ve read here, Lush seem to operate. It’s based on two things – greed and arrogance.

  5. http://www.beaumont-estate-windsor-conference.co.uk/photo-gallery.aspx

    Lush has booked the whole of this venue for a 2 day meeting. International managers from all over the world are being flown in (at vast expense and carbon cost) as well as the uk managers. the whole of Lush is going from Poole to Windsor for a 3 day piss up where no one will learn anything but lots of money will be spent. And while the managers are whooping it up in Windsor the poor staff earning less than the living wage will be left behind running the shops and making more money for the Constantines so that they can hire posh estates for more meetings and so it goes on.

    I don’t think Lush have heard of regional meetings or conference calls. That’s all a bit cheap and the Constantines spare no expense on themselves or their managers, it’s just the staff they deprive.

  6. I often hear this Constantine chap on LBC. He strikes me as morally and intellectually vacant with a superiority complex. When I last heard him on the radio (couple of weeks ago) I did a search to find out more about him (which led me to also stumbling on this blog). Many articles said he was the “Willy Wonka” of cosmetics. I take it they mean the creepy Johnny Depp version as opposed to the brilliance of Gene Wilder? In fact, he strikes me as neither a brilliant inventor or a businessman, more of a story teller. A brightly coloured helium balloon – showy, flashy, full of gas, but ultimately of no substance – there’s nothing inside. Like I said, vacant. Still, am sure he’s a lovely bloke…

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