|I’m Rebecca Jay, Managing Director of Dodo Pad.|
This, by a long mile, is the hardest and the saddest blog post I have ever had to write in all my years at the ‘helm’ of Dodo Pad. And in case you are counting, yes, every single Dodo Pad diary ever produced is in the word HELP! below. All 54 of them.
|The Executive Summary|
In short, unless some magic happens and a fairy godmother or white knight appears in the next few weeks, the 2020 Dodo Pad diary will be the very last in the Dodo Pad’s proud 54-year history and the company will close in the Spring.
I helped rescue the Dodo Pad from extinction in early 1996 when my son was a tiny baby – an almost unbelievable 24 years ago. HarperCollins, the previous publishers, had sold their stationery interests to Debden who had no interest to continue with the Dodo Pad – it was believed to be a brand that had ‘had its day’.
The opportunity fell into my lap via a chance conversation which brought back fond memories, as a teenager, of my own 1968 Dodo Pad diary. It provided me with the opportunity, aged 40 and with my very unexpected and only child, to avoid returning to the fierce world of advertising in which I had worked for over 15 years. It gave me a chance to do something for myself, to become a ‘kitchen table entrepreneur’ and to be around to enjoy my son as he grew up. It was an exciting challenge to build a company from scratch and develop an already much loved and ‘indodispensable’ diary brand.
Exactly 23 years ago today, Sunday 8th December 1996, this article ‘Diary of a Somebody’, by Rachel Cooke (to whom I am forever grateful) appeared in the Sunday Times Style Magazine and it propelled us into the next stage of the Dodo Pad’s life.
Over the years we expanded the range with the objective of building a small but sustainable business. There have been a number of product successes – for instance our recently expanded everyday stationery range – and some failures too (like our Book of the Big Move launched in the week of the financial crisis in 2008 when house moving slowed to a tiny trickle), but here’s a quote from Winston Churchill that has been my mantra throughout:
|I have no regrets. The last 24 years have been a rollercoaster with thrills and spills but since the 2008 recession it’s been increasingly tough. The parallel rise of Amazon/online retailing and the demise of the high street, coupled with increased production costs vs. retail price expectations (everyone wants something for less and is prepared to find a way to get it!) have brought us to a point beyond which we cannot go.|
The past 3 years, in the wake of the Brexit vote and the massive fall in the value of the pound, have been the toughest yet, despite my sunny demeanour when I speak to customers.
2 years ago I started searching for potential buyers. After much effort, protracted negotiations with an ideal buyer had achieved what we believed was a firm sale. It came to nothing this summer when their board voted, instead of taking us on and building their publishing arm, to concentrate on removing their core print business from China due to the trade war threats emanating from the USA, courtesy of Donald Trump. Outside influences over which we had no control.
It’s a wry irony that our 2020 Dodo Pad is Amazon’s best-selling family planner this week and we’ve just achieved our highest ever Trusted Shops website review score.
To those of you who tell me you couldn’t live without your Dodo Pad (and you are many) well, I’m afraid you’re most probably going to have to undergo some gentle withdrawal therapy over the next 12 months… unless something very magical happens over the next few days and weeks.
To those of you who have read this far and have been buying loyally for over 50 years; to those of you with a more recent habit or just some curiosity about what makes the Dodo Pad so special; to those of you who always buy Dodo Pads for Christmas in the knowledge that they will bring unbridled organisation with some gentle humour, please remember that…
|And if you don’t happen to know any fairy godmothers or white knights (we’re gender-neutral here so we accept fairy godfathers too) please give everyone you know a 2020 Dodo Pad for Christmas and help us go out with a bang! We plan to hold a super sale in the early Spring when everything left will be on very special offer.|
A little part of me will die with the demise of the Dodo Pad – I have given it well over half my entire life’s work and it’s the only job my son James has ever known me do.
We need HELP!
Please follow us on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram where we’ll be making a bit of noise over the next few days, hoping to be heard above the cacophony of the UK’s imminent general election!
Is there someone out there to take the Dodo Pad into the future? It’s a great and much-loved brand and still has huge potential, but it needs a new champion for that future. If you are that person or know that person, then please get in touch.
I thank all our customers and supporters over the years, for your loyalty to and enjoyment of the Dodo Pad.
All best wishes for a wonderful Christmas and a very happy and healthy New Year.
Dodo Pad Ltd
The Old Stables | Liskey Hill | Perranporth | Cornwall TR6 0BB
T +44 (0)345 053 1166 / (0)345 634 6272
Since 1966 | Over 50 years of Muddle Management | Low-tech organisation in a high tech world