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Rumblings Continue About Pembrokeshire Produce Direct

01 Dec

The rumblings have continued over the last few weeks as more producers bend my ear about Pembrokeshire Produce Direct, (PPD). Apparently there was a further meeting/party on 18th November to discuss amongst other things how to make sure that PPD is still a business in years to come.

Of course I’ve got an interest in this, firstly becuase they’ve received huge funding, secondly because its food related and finally because I have some of our Best Of  Welsh & Borders producers signed up with them.

Producers have been sent a copy of the accounts and although I have yet to see them, I’m told they paint a gloomy picture. The European grant funding PPD received, which runs on a declining scale is due to end in the not too distant future.

I understand that PPD needs to be servicing 250 customers on a regular basis by March 2013 when at the moment, on average, they are currently servicing 50-60 customers. So after all this time and with huge funding, how is this increased customer miracle going to happen? I’m told that PPD have also taken on board producers from outside the county. When PPD were challenged with this they said that they didn’t have enough variety of producers in Pembrokeshire. Fair enough, but in that case why would anyone involved in the initial planning of this venture not know that fact before they went for funding? So why press forward with a name of Pembrokeshire Produce Direct when they know they cannot source entirely from Pembrokeshire? Whose decision was that?  

Now the latest plan from PPD is to ‘ask’ its producers to bring in at least 2 new regular customers by end of January. They also want some of them to sort out their pricing structure so that PPD customers are not penalised or overcharged by shopping with PPD. Again something I would have thought would have been sorted out years ago. PPD also want to offer more promotions on occasional highlighted products or special themed packs, and will also look at ideas from producers too. PPD also want the producers to remember, promote and also to push PPD, well that’s what they’d like the producers to do on top of running their own businesses.

So what are PPD doing over and above what they should be doing anyway? Well they’re funding a £5.00 voucher which will be given out with Xmas orders and is valid for on orders for 5th or 12th January. They are also talking about a free delivery fortnight again in January to target new customers and reward loyal ones. Well that seems to be it if I’m understanding all this latest news correctly, put more onto the producers. I’m not sure at this late stage in the business plan how this is actually going to generate much more trade for them. Its fine for PPD to shift work work/effort onto producers but unless I have got it completely wrong I cannot see PPD being the main core of any producer’s business and therefore it is never going to be a priority. As a complete outsider, I’d like to have seen PPD doing much, much more and as the business seems in such dire straights, have any staff been made redundant or any salaries reduced?  

As they reach the end of the line, PPD are not left with many options. I’ve been told a few times that PPD are considering going cap-in-hand to Wag or trying that same tack with Pembrokeshire Country Council. If either of those avenues is used there will be an enormous uproar if this business is supported once again from the public purse. This is yet another well-propped up business that is failing to deliver on all counts. How much of that is down to a poor intial business idea, or an ill-thought out plan, or staff unable to deliver what was needed, there’s much food for thought but time does seem to be running away from this project.

Love to hear your thoughts.

 
 

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  1. Pembs person

    December 1, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    I think it would be helpful if we had more information on PPD
    I hope someone sends you a copy of their latest accounts and then you can update us all.
    anyone know how much money these guys got and when this project ends?
    this is poor for Pembrokeshire that’s for sure
    are Pembrokeshire allowed to buy into a company? I thought they weren’t, but then heard gossip that they had bought into Bluestone. Not sure if this is right or not.

     
  2. local chap

    December 1, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    we need more details on this on PPD
    Can anyone help?
    I wasn’t sure about this project when it first kicked off. Couldn’t decide whether to go with them or not. Now I pleased that I haven’t got in bed with these people.
    PPD seems ill-thought out from what I hear, but I’d like more facts. All I’ve heard is talk and gossip, so I’d like to learn more about what has gone wrong and why so I can understand this situation better.
    Bet their staff are not on minimum wage!

     
  3. unfair

    December 2, 2011 at 9:55 am

    Wales has always had a massive distribution problem and the government just ignore the problem.
    PPD in theory looked to have sorted it for Pembs, but with such a huge amount of funding going into PPD it’s hardly fair for the rest of us trying trying to trade here in Wales.
    I’m furious that PPD now seems to be on its knees and all that money has been wasted
    how much are the staff getting paid
    now the business is in the red have staff been cut? Have salaries been reduced? If not why not?

     
  4. pointless funding

    December 2, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    I really want to know more about this set up
    How much is the funding?
    How long does the funding last?
    Who put this business plan together?
    How many are employed?
    On what salaries?
    Didn’t the council let them have an interest free loan when the funding hadn’t come through?
    How many businesses did the council do this for? Or is it just the favoured Bluestone and PPD?
    Are PPD making a profit?
    If not, why not?
    Who is responsible for them not making a profit?
    If the person responsible is still employed, then why are they still in their job?
    I’m not impressed when Wales takes money for projects and so many of them do not achieve apart from certain people getting good salaries. That can’t be right

     
  5. Jed

    December 2, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    I want someone who knows the facts to clarify what is going on with PPD.
    Lots of questions have been asked. All we need now is someone to give us the honest answers.

     
  6. local person

    December 4, 2011 at 11:59 am

    If the business model is no longer working then I hope no more public funding is pumped in just for ‘political’ reasons. If a private business fails it is not rescued by public monies, neither should it be.
    If PPD is in trouble the details must be made public….just like the funding!!

     
  7. local lady

    December 6, 2011 at 9:27 am

    this business model certainly doesn’t seem to have worked and I’m told it’s coming to the end of its 5 year plan. If you can’t be making money in that time, that says it all. No more public money should be put into this project again, that’s outrageous and should be illegal too.

     
  8. producer

    December 6, 2011 at 10:50 am

    I’ve always thought of Pembrokeshire, along with Carmarthenshire as the two favoured food counties as they are the only counties in Wales that I know of that have food officers.
    In fact I call Pembrokeshire guys, pampered producers, especially when they got this scheme set up to abck up their Haverfordwest market.
    I have no idea of the amount of money that has gone in to this scheme, but talking to people and reading this site, I see that money is the main grumble point along with not knowing how much the PPD team are being paid.
    Life in Wales has never been fair, and never on the food side which is the bit I know, but if this scheme gets more money in, then I shall be taking it up with my Assembly person.
    It would be like putting more money down another deep black hole.
    Someone needs to take responsibility for this scheme. |It’s now far too late for heads to role, but why wasn’t this done earlier? Who has been supervising this scheme over the last four years?
    PPD have had time to make this scheme work and they haven’t, so either the business model is poor or the staff are not up to the job.
    Is it true a financial person has been brought in? If so, where from, who’s paying him and how much?
    Pembrokeshire shouldn’t be proud of this

     
  9. hard pressed Pembs producer

    December 15, 2011 at 10:26 am

    There are many cans of worms as far as Welsh food is concerned, but stick Pembs. council in the mix and this must be one of the biggest cans we’ve seen since Bluestone.
    Do understand that there will be plenty of us complaining to our county councillors and to our AMs if PP Direct goes back to beg for more money from the RDP. Serving around 56 customers a week, that would be a joke if it was funny, but it isn’t. Who came up with this business plan in the first place? Who has been overseeing it? Who takes day-to-day responsibility for PPD?
    How long will it take before PCC understand that funding, wherever it comes from officially, is tax payers money and cannot and shouldn’t be spent without there being consequences. By that I mean heads should roll now, both in the council and in PPD. Some people have to take responsibility for this scheme and it should start with the well paid guys at Pembs council and follow with those in charge at PPD.

     
  10. answers needed

    December 16, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    There are so many questions being asked under the various PPD pieces, but I haven’t seen any responses from PPD or PCC. I wonder why not…..can either of you hide away from this for ever?
    I shall make the strongest representations I can if I hear that this project has gone cap in hand for further funding.
    It appears to be a total waste of money and it’s very sadly one of many food projects that have been ill-thought through and not achieved much but waste public money.