Happy New Year! A brief look back on 2021
Posted on December 31 2021
Happy New Year! As we say hello to a brand new 2022 we thought we'd take a moment to reflect on the past twelve months, which have been interesting to say the least!
If 2020 was the year of the pandemic, although that is obviously ongoing 2021 was definitely the year of Brexit. We saw our whole business change shape this year and it's safe to say it's been a bit of a roller coaster!
Having sadly lost our original factory with whom we've been working for over 10 years in 2020, due to the pandemic, only three months into 2021 we got the news that our new factory was also having to close. So having worked with the same family run business for so long, we were to move production twice within twelve months- no mean feat, especially during an ongoing pandemic!
Fortunately we have a fantastic agent in Spain who we've worked with since the business began, so thanks to his hard work and the joys of technology, we were able to start working with our new factory in the Spring. They are also a family run business and I finally got out to Spain to meet them in July. It's actually a larger factory than our previous one so will allow us to increase production as we grow, which is great and needless to say their quality and craftsmanship is incredible, so we continue where our previous factory left off!
We knew Brexit would affect our business but the truth is until 1st January 2021 there was literally no way we could quantify by how much. We took the decision to go with the known risk- moving our operations out of the UK would definitely be expensive and complicated; staying in the UK could be expensive and complicated, but there was a chance it wouldn't be. Turns out it was!
We've promised a brief look back at the year so won't go into too much detail here, but suffice to say with the additional (and often unexpected and windy unpredictable) costs of duties, taxes and administration charges we got to the point where we had no alternative but to move our operations out of the UK and into the EU. It took a while to prepare everything as you can imagine, but in August we waved goodbye to thousands of pairs of shoes as it drove away to our new German warehouse!
Numerous challenges ensued including stock getting stuck in customs and IT systems really not getting along, but over the next few months the team worked tirelessly together with our new team over in Germany to get things running smoothly. Initially we weren't even able to visit due to Covid related travel restrictions, although we finally got there in October. Suffice to say we're now totally up and running and can resume sending our shoes worldwide without any additional Brexit related costs- phew!
To complete the hat trick, this year we're also saying good bye to our office. With a large empty warehouse and the team largely working from home, we could no longer justify our lovely RS HQ. So towards the end of the year we sorted everything (who knew we had so much stuff!). Most of our shelving and furniture went to a local charity shop who were thrilled and it's great to know they'll make money for a great cause.
Loads of our display materials, leathers and fabrics we no longer need, stationery and Christmas decorations went to the Birmingham Scrapstore and a local artist- both of whom work with schools and charities across the city, making good use out of donated resources. So whilst it's been hard, it helps knowing that everything we no longer need has gone to a good home to be reused into something new.
Hopefully we'll be able to get a new office at some point in the future, once the dust has settled but for now we're all working from home, with our fabulous new warehouse in Germany dispatching.
BIG CHANGES, EXCITING TIMES
In summary this year has probably seen the most change to our business in a short period of time. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank each and every member of the team for their tireless hard work, ridiculously strong resilience and flexibility and their all round awesomeness. Thanks too to all our amazing suppliers who have helped us throughout these massive transitions, and to our stockists for their support and patience.
It really has been tough but hopefully we're through the worst and 2022 looks very, very exciting...