KF´s sätt att behandla småföretag gör att jag kommer att bojkotta alla bolag….

Sent: Sunday, March 01, 2009 4:20 PM
Subject: KF´s sätt att behandla småföretag gör att jag kommer att bojkotta alla bolag….
Hej!
Idag läste jag i Financial Times hur KF har kört över småföretaget Antipodes Premium Wines. En tankeväckande artikel.

Handlingar som denna tjänar inte till att stärka Sveriges rykte utomlands.

Jag hoppas verkligen att denna fråga om kontraktsbrott kan lösas snarast på ett sätt som gynnar båda inblandade parter.

KF´s sätt att behandla detta småföretag gör att jag kommer att bojkotta alla inköp inom KF-koncernen tills dess att ni har löst detta.

Jag kommer även att påverka mina vänner och uppmana till bojkott av KF, Coop, Kapp-Ahl.

Med vänliga hälsningar

Eva-Marie N.

History of alcohol politics in Sweden

Thank you to the large number of people who wrote to the Chairwoman of KF to express your support for our company at how KF has treated us. A selection of the emails have been posted as comments to the below posting. It is clear that many people feel strongly about fairness, good business ethics and do not want the established forces to restrict their legal access to quality wine. Thank you and please encourage your friends to also write. Naturally we have not had any response from KF.

I recently read an enlightening magazine article on the history of alcohol politics in Sweden. The fact that such a term as “alcohol politics” exists here should be enough to raise yourcuriosity to learn more! Then last week I was pleased to meet the author of the article and the new editor of Neo Magazine http://www.magasinetnetneo.se, Mattias Svensson.

Here is the article http://www.voltaire.se/index.php?article=89 I can highly recommend it but be warned, have a good glass of red wine at your side to calm the nerves as you read it.

Cheers

Mark

Financial Times takes up KF Breach of contract affair

See above: Open Letter to KF Directors

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/47b123fa-fc94-11dd-aed8-000077b07658.html

FT Germany: http://www.ftd.de/karriere_management/business_english/:Business-English-Vintner-fails-to-milk-Sweden-s-sacred-cow/498156.html

Vintner fails to milk Sweden’s sacred cow
By David Ibison

Financial Times: Published: February 17 2009 02:00 |

Mark Majzner is a laid-back 42-year-old Australian who until now barely had a political bone in his body. But this all changed after he signed a deal that allowed his modest company to compete with one of Sweden’s largest and most entrenched state-owned monopolies, Systembolaget.

The government-owned alcohol retailer has a presence on every high street and is known by the nickname “The System”. Swedes cannot buy alcohol from any other retailer and most of its stores keep bottles behind locked glass doors, bringing an element of pre-1989 eastern Europe to Sweden’s otherwise 21st century shopping streets.

Sweden joined the European Union in 1995 and EU regulations state there must be free movement of goods and services. The country’s state monopolies – which cover areas ranging from medicine to gambling – therefore do not sit prettily with the EU and in judgments the European Court of Justice has called on Sweden to open the door to competition.

An ECJ ruling allowing Systembolaget to keep its retail monopoly but permitting Swedes to buy alcohol online prompted Mr Majzner to set up his company, Antipodes Premium Wines. Registered in Malta, it buys pricier wine from around the world, warehouses it in Germany, pays Swedish taxes on behalf of customers and delivers the wine to their door. It has grown rapidly and has 27,000 members.

The Financial Times originally met Mr Majzner last summer and in an article argued that his business indicated that “after decades of state control, ‘The System’ is starting to crack”. But according to Mr Majzner, subsequent events make that claim appear optimistic. Mr Majzner signed a deal with the Swedish Co-operative Union (KF), which runs a nationwide chain of food stores, that allowed its 3m members to buy wine from Mr Majzner’s company using a KF website. Though the resulting sales volumes were expected to be tiny, the move meant that for the first time there would be a rival to Systembolaget on the Swedish high street.

But three days before the new service was due to go live, Mr Majzner was summoned to a meeting with a senior KF executive and told the deal was off even though the two companies had been working for months on the launch.

Posten, the state-owned Swedish postal service, also suddenly refused to deliver his wine, in spite of having done so happily for six months.

Armed with his contract, Mr Majzner considered suing and was told by his lawyers he had a watertight case. But then his law firm suffered a last-minute change of mind and said it could no longer represent him.

KF says the deal was terminated because it did not want to undermine Sweden’s policy of responsible drinking. A Systembolaget spokesman said it was surprised to see KF countering the country’s sensible drinking policy.

Posten said it decided not to deliver his wine, as it could not verify the age of the person collecting it – even though Posten is based in small local shops that ask for ID when cigarettes are sold and could do the same for wine.

Mr Majzner argues that he simply wants to use European competition law to offer Swedes premium wines, wines rarely drunk by alcohol abusers. He sees a more political explanation for the blow. He claims his joint venture with KF and Posten represented a competitive threat to Systembolaget and thus broke an unspoken bond that binds Sweden’s most powerful leftwing organisations.

Maria Rankka, the head of Timbro, a right-leaning Swedish think-tank, has little doubt this is what happened. “There are very strong power structures in place, as we can see in this case,” she said.

It is easy to forget the depth and breadth of Sweden’s leftwing heritage, but the fact remains that it has been ruled for most of the past 70 years by the Social Democrats, who set up most of the state-run monopolies. The country’s right-leaning government is a rare exception to the rule.

KF, for example, is “the union of the country’s 51 consumer co-operative societies” and traces its roots to Sweden’s folkrörelsen , or popular movement, which is regarded as the cornerstone of Swedish social democracy.

Moreover, many of its 3m members are also members of LO, the main labour union, which uses its fees to finance the Social Democrats.

Given these links, Mr Majzner believes it was impossible for KF to go into competition with a state-run monopoly, although oddly KF only seems to have realised this only after newspaper articles started pointing it out.

Mr Majznersays Sweden is a transparent and business-friendly country, butevery once in a while its socialist heritage can loom up out of the gloom and fight back. As a newspaper editorial on the whole affair asked: “There is a cost in challenging the most sacred cow of Social Democracy. But it can’t be impossible, can it?”
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2009

Skriv till KF!

Är du för valmöjlighet och god affärsetik? Läs vårt öppna brev till KFs direktörer här. Om du vill säga ditt om att upprätthålla svensk affärsetik och valfrihet, kopiera och klistra gärna följande text och skicka till Nina Jarlbäck, ordförande i Ktf Svea: nina.jarlback@kf.se.

Idag läste jag i Financial Times hur KF har kört över småföretaget Antipodes Premium Wines. En tankeväckande artikel. Handlingar som denna tjänar inte till att stärka Sveriges rykte utomlands. Jag hoppas verkligen att denna fråga om kontraktsbrott kan lösas snarast på ett sätt som gynnar båda inblandade parter.

Lägg gärna till mig i kopia-fältet på mejlet! Min e-postadress är mark@australianwineclub.se.

A fine society

Wednesday Feb 11 we re-launched a wine club for fine wines (150kr and up) which may be as smart as opening a Rolls Royce showroom in these times but I think it is the right focus for these times……..

Fine Wine Society (www.finewinesociety.se) is what the name says – a society. ” an organized group of persons associated together for religious, benevolent, cultural, scientific, political, patriotic, or other purposes.” You can strike the religious, benevolent (unless you bring along a bag-in-box drinking friend and expose them to real wines), scientific, political and patriotic. Fine Wine Society is about cultural and other purposes.

FWS will organise regular wine dinners in Stockholm with our wonderful chef Johannes Videhult with wines selected and presented by Sommelier Jimmy Forsman. Many members would have attended our dinners before so you know what to expect.

Fine wine (wine made with the greatest of care and in tiny quantities that have developed a strong reputation for its quality and uniqueness over many years ) is a part of what makes the society important now – connecting with people with whom you have something in common with to create memorable experiences that excite the 4 senses through wine, food and interesting conversation. When we are busy we put relationships and people to one side as we strive to make hay while the sun shines. Fancy restaurants with expensive wine lists, long-weekend holidays to sunny places, quick lunches grabbed with old friends make up our indulgences.

Sure, we could all work even harder now to make ends meet but the investment in time may not be worthwhile and now is the time to invest in our relationships with friends and family. I do it over good wine, good food with good friends.

Today we had three seperate  visitors to the office both of whom took the time to stay and chat for a while, drink some coffee and connect on a personal level even though the relationship came through business.  Wine is a great ice breaker subject and the conversation with my visitors today, a South African, an Australian and a Swede and her NY-resident Swedish brother, ambled into other interesting subjects that enabled each of us to give of ourselves and share our experiences strengthening the bonds of friendship.

That is what a society is to me. That is why I love the wine business, the people in it, the people I meet and those I am priviledged to work with. The Fine Wine Society is about connecting with people at a deeper level intellectually and emotionally over the common interest in wine.

Sommelier Jimmy Forsman has put together a range of wines which are assured to please both the palate and the purse and create a memorable experience. We have a large range of new wines coming in over the next few months which will create variety and interest for Society members.

FWS is not an e-commerce business, it is for people who love wine by people who love wine so if you want to talk to our wine advisors to get personal advice on what to buy you can call them or SMS 72500 the text Wine FWS and we will call you right back during working hours.

Cheers!

Mark

p.s thanks Karyl for your thoughtful email.

Importance of Spitting

There are three important things to learn to be in the wine business. 1. swirl a glass of wine without spilling it  2. spit straight and cleanly into the spittoon 3. not to feel bad when liters of wine get poured out.

It is not the learning of the skills that can be challenging, it it perfecting them and dealing with the less-than-perfect experiences.

I was once visiting a very expensively designed winery in Tuscany and was tasting from the barrel. The winemaker took pride in the perfect state of the winery which he said should not even smell like wine because that meant the precious scent of the wine was being wasted.

As the luscious red liquid was poured into my glass I started to look around for somewhere to spit. This was going to be a long day of tasting I could definitely not swallow. In Australia all winemakers spit into the drain or a spittoon or sawn off barrel with saw dust is proffered. In this art gallery of a winery there was no spitton but the hand-paved red brick floor offered a large and inviting drain. I carefully swirled my glass, sucked and tasted enthusiastically, searching for the right words to describe the Sangiovese nectar. To my horror I saw everyone else swallow and with my mouth full of wine I could not ask for a spittoon. Remembering the highly polished drain to my left I casually walked over and with perfect aim spat into the middle of it, just a few crimson splashes shattering the lustre of the hand scrubbed floor. Feeling proud of myself I looked up to see all eyes shooting arrows in my direction. Was there spit hanging from my chin, I wondered? My second thought was more spot on – in their mind I had just as well spat on their grandmother’s kitchen floor.

Turning the colour of the wine trickling down the drain I apologised and scampered about looking for a tap to wash away my faux pas. To a chorus of “it’s naaathing” and “no problemo” a spittoon miraculously appeared and my sobriety, if not my pride, was saved. The wine was so good I wished I hadn’t had to spit and show my Antipodean roots!

I was reminded of this story as we reflected on a week of tasting really bad wines. We got through 70 wines this week, many from Spain, Australia, France and South Africa. One producer sent over 9 variations of Merlot that tasted like tinned asparagus and another obviously thought that rotten bananas was something the Swedish wine consumer appreciated. Swirling and spitting our way through these examples of crimes against grapes, I had no trouble spitting and then throwing out the wine happy never to taste them again (and of course neither will our members)!

Cheers

Mark

p.s. I went to a really great guys only dinner this weekend and coincidentally met some happy members who gave me a clear message : the wine has been great so far but don’t let us down in the future! Rest assured, we are swirling and spitting our way through a lot of wines to make sure we never do!

Cheap talk is best value service

Managing a rapidly growing company gives me little time to go shopping for the vitamins that are  part of my health regime (which includes of course a glass of red wine a night with dinner). An advertisement for evitamin.se caught my attention and being a keen online shopper I took up their introductory offer. 500+kr later I looked forward to delivery within the advertised 5 days.

3weeks later and not a word from the company (email, telephone) I am still waiting. A quick search revealed that there are a lot of other angry, ripped off customers of evitamin.se out there and despite my efforts to contact the company I am 500kr poorer for the experience.

Customer service is always top of our mind in our e-commerce wine company. Every company has had its delivery problems but we have learned that the problem matters less than how and how fast the company responds to it.  Shopping online is convenient but impersonal and a fancy website can not make up for real people’s voices. Emails can be misinterpreted and are rarely successful at solving problems. Emails impart information, they can not communicate or build trust.

Australian Wine Club had 7 day a week call centre (0200 33 88 88 ) from our first day of direct selling and we have always preferred to call a customer rather than email, where possible. As we have grown so fast (January has been our best month ever) we have not had the resources to handle every customer contact as good as we wanted. If there is no telephone number on a website I am not going to buy from them in the future. I recently bought a camera from Scandinavian Photo and their service (online and in their Stockholm store) was first rate.

Talk is cheap but worth a lot so now we have trained a team of wine consultants who will give advice on what wine to order on the telephone and take orders directly. To avoid long waiting times we have introduced an SMS service where customers can SMS to 72500 wine (in the text field, along with their name) and we will call back as quickly as possible. After the first call the customer will get the phone number of their own personal wine consultant that they can call to get wine advice and to order.

When things go wrong, as theysometimes do, we now have Caroline, a wonderful new customer service whiz whose friendly voice will be heard more than her emails. I used to answer customer service emails myself but now I just read them all and fortunately we have 99 happy customers for every 1 not. If you are the 1 unhappy customer, you will soon be hearing from Caroline!

If you are following our saga with Posten and KF, there is nothing to report. KF’s media comments are “no comment” and Posten has decided not to return our emails. That is good service! I await their call….

Cheers to good service (I got my vitamins from the bricks and mortar store)

Mark

New boss for Systembolaget

Congratulations to the newly appointed CEO of Systembolaget, Magdalena Gerger http://www.svd.se/naringsliv/nyheter/artikel_2365505.svd#articlecomments who takes over from the former prime minister’s wife Anitra Steen on May 1st.

The differences between Anitra and Magdalena say a lot about the way Sweden has changed since the new centre right government came to power. Anitra was a career public servant, during her tenure became married to the Prime Minister and Social Democrats political appointment without any retail or private sector experience.  Under Anitra’s 10 year reign 99 store managers were found guilty of taking bribes from Systembolaget’s suppliers and not one senior executive lost their job to take responsibility.

Appointed by the new centre right government, Magdalena has an impressive consumer products, private sector and even alcohol industry resume that would make her suitable for a deregulated alcohol retailer let alone a monopoly. She is quoted as saying that she does not expect to make many changes which sounds like typical new CEO diatribe given how different she is from her predecessor and the enormous experience she brings to the job. If the board did not want to change things they would not have appointed such an experienced and accomplished successor to Mrs. Persson. Given that only half of Swedes support the monopoly and contrary to what SVD mentioned in their interview with her (Du som kommer från det privata näringslivet, känns det skönt att slippa konkurrenter? Coming from the private business sector, does it feel good to not have competitors?) Magdalena will need all her impressive marketing and management skills.

Congratulations Sweden, in the words of the 44th US President, This is the change we need!

Cheers

Mark