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THE WASHINGTON 1TMES; THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 5. 1918.
Message 1 3 K oj1 ': V Jlm. to c A merican Business 77ie Lesson of British Experience From an Address made in New York by Mr. Val Fisher, London Publisher, Member London. Chamber of Commerce, Associate Member American Chamber of Commerce in London ' I N four years of war, many things have hap pened in Great Britain that I am quite sure you will be interested in hearing about. "Some wonderful things have happened in advertising, through war conditions, and I want to touch on some of those things, that you may be prepared for the conditions that will probably arise as the war goes on. In the last four years the business men of Great Britain have learned more concerning the importance of building good-will through advertising than they did in forty years preceding the war. "In considering business conditions in England you must bear in mind that ONE-HALF OF ALL THE MEN IN ENGLAND. BETWEEN THE AGES OF 18 AND 51 ARE IN MILITARY OR NAVAL SERVICE. That means ONE-THIRD of our entire male population, from the infants in the cradle to the extremely old. Ton must bear in mind that 5,000,000 f British women who never worked before have voluntarily gone to work to fill the places of men at the front. Hundreds of our women are working in factories making TNT a work that ruins the hair and turns the skin yellow thus sacrificing their beauty for the rest of their lives for the sake of Britain and freedom. We have only one busi ness in England and that is to win the war. We are all concentrated on that one thing, even to the boys and girls. You would think under such conditions, with as many men in active service, in proportion to population, as you would have if you had 18,000,000 men in uniform you would think under such conditions that retail business would be bound to be bad. And yet business is wonderfully good. You American business men are now in much the same position as were the British business men at the end of their first year of war. You are won dering what will be the effect of increasing selective service you are anticipating restrictions on your busi ness and I want to tell you some of our experiences so you can profit by them. "The department stores of any country usually reflect the state of trade. The profits of the twelve leading London department stores during the period of war were as follows: Fiscal year 1914-15, profits $4,950,000; 1915-16, $4,250,000; 1916-17, $5,575,000. In the Pro vinces the profits of the nine leading stores were: 1914-15, $750,000; 1915-16, $945,000; 1916-17, $1,150,000. "In the wholesale trade, the seven largest British houses increased their profits from $3,429,000 in 1914-15 to $5,885,000 in 1916-17. In the grocery trade, our leading chain-store firm made a profit of $2,313,755 in 1916-17 and increased it to $3,736,000 in 1917-18, the latter figure being $1,000,000 per annum over their average for the previous five years. Lest you should think this is profit eering, I will tell you that the turn-overs justify such cently declared there was no profiteering. Trade is good, abnormally good in England, because never before in its history have there been so many workers per thousand population never before has the wealth of the country been so evenly distributed. "The experience of Britain's retail stores contains an object lesson which should not be lost on the business men of America. During the first few months of the war, many stores cut down their advertising. But Self ridge did not. He did not skip a single day. He used all the space the papers would allow him to use and has continued to do so. The result was that Selfridge's profits during the first year of the war were $573,000; during the second, $750,000, and during the third year, $1,125,000. "Another London store, much larger than Selfridge's at the start of the war, decided to cut down its advertis ing, and did so until they saw their mistake, and the re sult is shown in their returns. This store's profits for the first year of the war were $1,546,000; for the second year, $1,000,000; and for the third year, $1,175,000. From fourth or fifth place among London stores, in volume of business and profits, at the start of the war, Selfridge has climbed to SECOND place as the result of his continuous advertising, and Tie would be FIRST today, had not the war prevented building additions to his store. "British manufacturers who have not a dollar's worth of merchandise to sell, whose entire plants are employed on Government work, are keeping: their advertising: continuously before the public, because while they are perfectly willing to turn their profits over to the Gov ernment, while they are perfectly willing- for the sake of winning the war to have their factories comman deered and their normal business completely stopped, yet they are nof willing to sacrifice their good-will; they are not willing to have their names or Jtheir products forgotten, "And so they continue iheir advertising, continue building their good-will, so that when the war shall be won there will be an immediate demand for the billions of dollars' worth of merchandise that their greatly en larged factories will then turn out "This is a time when every manufacturer, every busi ness man, should look far ahead. Good-will cannot be built in a day, even by advertising. The war will not last al ways. We have all seen the mistake of being unprepared for war; it is almost as great and serious a mistake to be UNPREPARED FOR PEACE. "What are you going to do with your acres and acres of enhrrged factory space now employed in the making ofWarProducts all over America, if you don't build good will now for the goods you are going to make when the war is won? How are you going to keep the smoke com ing out of your factory chimneys after peace is declared, if you don't keep your name constantly before the public now, and build a demand for your peace-time products profits, and further, the British Government has re- The above is reproduced in the interest of American Industry by the AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF ADVERTISING AGENCIES Office of the National Executive Secretary Metropolitan Tower, New York American Association of Advertising Agencies embraces a national membership and comprises the following councils: Western Council, New England Council, Philadelphia Council, Southern Council and New York Council. that will insure a satisfactory business the minute: yon stop making munitions or other war supplies ? "The war has taught the manufacturers ,and business men of Britain that advertising is not only the least expensive way to sell goods, .but that it also has the far more important function of BUILDING GOOD-WILL a good-will whose benefits, especially in critical times, can hardly be measured. British business men have also learned that advertising can be used in time of war to stop the sale of their goods, and at the same time retain and even increase the good-will of the public. In a few cases British corporations have realized when it was too late, and after irrevocable damage was done, that advertising would have saved them. "Moreover, you Americans must not forget your op portunities for foreign, trade. Millions of people in Great Britain and France and Italy and Central and South America will be looking to you for American-made goods . ' when the war is over. Those of you who are best pre pared, those of you whose good-will is most firmly es tablished, will reap the greatest benefit. "From the outbreak of the war British business men clearly recognized their duty to their country and its fighting men. It was essential that they should strain every nerve to keep the trade of the country as near normal as possible during the war and it is just as essential that when peace comes they must be prepared to keep every factory working at full pressure and to find employment for every employ able unit. It is only by such methods that Britain can pay for her share of the war. "No nation stands to gain as much commercially from the war as does America. In Great Britain the per capita income is -$236, and the per capita debt $589; in the United States your per capita income is $352, and your per capita debt is $63. "As you gentlemen know, I have been interested in fostering Anglo-American trade for many years. And I want to warn your manufacturing and export houses that NOW is the time to prepare for peace. I find a tendency here to neglect preparations for export trade until peace has been declared. There could not be a greater mistake. Now is not the time to export, but most emphatically now IS the time to lay your plans and build good-will. "Through a long experience with Anglo-American trade I know that most of the failures made by British houses exporting to this country and of American houses exporting to Great Britain, have come about through the lack of adequately understanding the temperaments of the public in the two countries. "These are times of rapid and tremendous change. No man can rest on his laurels. Those who were leaders last year, those who are leaders now in their respective business lines, may be surpassed next year by far-seeing, efficient and THOROUGHLY PREPARED competitors who have laid their plans a long way in advance." -n 5CA ;i - ri v o if 1 s V o-t t c r.rf r 1T It I IC 0" f p. rf a. s a i o K rf j V 1