01 May 1998

NEW CHIEF EXECUTIVE of the Littlewoods Group Barry Gibson shares his homespun homilies in a folksy new booklet, Changing With Pride. This outlines his rallying cry of 'Vision' and 'Values' to the 900-strong management team of the 75-year old pools-to-home-shopping business. Gibson’s proclaimed Mission Statement is to establish Littlewoods as 'the UK’s most admired consumer business'. This will be achieved, he says, 'by being intimate with the lifestyles and aspirations of the average-income UK families who make up our core customer base'. The blueprint for this intimacy is PRIDE - a laboured acronym in which ‘P’ stands for 'Pursue excellence for all our customers'; ‘R’ for 'Respect for everyone'; ‘I’ for 'Ideas galore'; ‘D’ for 'Deliver value'; and ‘E’ for 'Enjoy the journey'! [Apropos the latter, Littlewoods’ managers may well agree with the old Chinese proverb that to travel hopefully is better than to arrive, since journey’s end in their case will mean the loss of around 130 middle-management jobs.] Each of the seven companies within the group has its own management services and Gibson intends to slash the tiers of management from 21 to eight. Says a Littlewoods spokeswoman: 'We want to flatten-out the organisation by taking out the hierarchy and getting everyone to work together. We want to get away from the ‘command and control’ culture where people almost go around saluting each other. It is a truly major process for us; I don’t think we’ve ever seen real fundamental change before.' Staff holidays and perks such as health and dental insurance will be standardised.