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The recent trouble at the Co-Op Bank Group highlight numerous weaknesses amongst the management which have damaged its ethical reputation and USP. “Friendly” banks – that is, a wide variety of types owned by members and customers rather than shareholders – are hugely popular around the world, with an estimated 20 per cent of the market for deposits and loans in Europe alone.read more...»
Entrepreneurship, finance, research, corporate culture, marketing, product development, changing management structures are all part of the ingredients in this BBC entrepreneurship feature about the development of Charlie Bingham's Foods.read more...»
Innovation turns business markets upside down, it alters the price and use of resources, it creates and destroys revenue flows and profitability as well as the way we work.
Peter Day a former BBC presenter considers a significant changes in a BBC Radio 4 series this weekend. Consider how the internet, search engines and 3D printing or additive manufacturing might alter market production processes, job opportunities marketing and economies.
There is much to discover and discuss in his superb introductory article linked above. The broadcasts are linked here.
A useful article here in BusinessWeek for business teachers and students - particularly those interested in the sports wear market. The article analyses recent comments by the CEO of Under Arnour, a fast-growing and increasingly global sports wear brand.
Under Armour is a great example of a business that has been able to sustain high levels of revenue growth using an organic growth strategy. But can it sustain this growth?read more...»
As the new term welcome and induction activities draw to an end this week, our focus turns to 'chalk and talk'. I've just completed my first topic of teaching A2 (on the AQA spec) and the mix of research and discussion led to a group creation of the first essay for Upper Sixth.read more...»
Some of you will be starting a new business course soon, and looking at the concept of a limited company.
Stated simply, a company is a type of business in which ownership is split between shareholders. The more shares you own, the larger your cut of the profits the company makes. When a company makes profits, managers have to decide: should those earnings be retained (ploughed back into the business) or paid out to the shareholders as a dividend?read more...»
Hopefully as summer approaches you are looking optimistically into the future, and planning a fun (and not-so-fun) programme to help you achieve your goals. But how far ahead should you plan? Weeks? Months? Years? What about decades?
Firms face the same dilemma, and it’s worth asking if the best plan is to carefully focus on the next 2-3 years - or some more distant point in the future. Should directors focus on quick results, or on making really big riches for their shareholders several years, or even decades, down the line?read more...»
Excellent BBC2 business documentary last night on the growth of low cost airlines 'Flights and Fights: Inside the Low Cost Airlines'. The programme explores how Ryanair and Easyjet have transformed the European airline industry.
The Co-Op has keen to highlight their ethical credentials as a key part of its marketing and positioning strategies. Supporters claimed that its mutuality was a more desirable form of ownership than PLCs.
The Banking Division has run into difficulties, and there have been significant changes in personnel within the last few weeks, in part as a response to major financial problems. On Friday there were reports that it had stopped offering loans to new business customers, and today The Independent on Sunday reported that The Co-Op Group's Finance Director Steve Humes had resigned. This followed the recent resignation of Brian Tootell after Moody's downgraded the Bank's bonds.
Mr Humes The Group Finance Director for the last two years, had been involved in managing the Co-Ops food operations, and may have had insufficient experience of its banking operations. Euan Sutherland the Co-Op's new CEO who was appointed in May, could be about to make significant changes in other key management positions.
The decision to stop lending to new business customer may imply that the there may be insufficient capital to support current obligations let alone new loans. The ethical bank may be about to meet its most serious crisis.
How far did the management style of Roberto Mancini contribute to his removal after the FA Cup defeat?
Mancini was the most successful manager of Manchester City's 23 managers hired after the retirement of Joe Mercer in 1971. He took the club to 2 FA Cup Finals, and City thrashed Manchester United 6-1 on the way to winning the Premier League with almost the last kick of the 2011-12 season.read more...»
It is now six years since the global financial crisis triggered a prolonged downturn in economic activity. The UK economy, like other developed economies, has struggled to escape from a period of stagnant economic growth.
However, despite the weak economy, many UK firms have succeeded in significantly growing their revenues and profits.
Here are three examples of such businesses. Their strategies for success are different – but there are also some similarities.
Can you compare and contrast these three – and also identify some other businesses that have enjoyed similar success despite the tough economic environment?
You might also consider:
- What factors have driven revenue growth at each of the three
- Has their growth strategy been based on organic or external
- To what extent has their growth been driven by international
- Do you think their recent success can be sustained?
- What factors might that continued success depend on?
One of the strengths and a key component in the Co-Op Bank's USP after recent banking problems - sub-prime lending, collapse of Northern Rock and LIBOR rate fixing, was its emphasis of ethical banking.
Expect lots of coverage this week about the growth strategy being pursued by Whitbread plc.
Whitbread used to have a pretty diverse product portfolio including the brewing of beer and the operation of David Lloyd health clubs. However, in recent years Whitbread had rationalised its portfolio of businesses to focus on two markets where it believes it can achieve sustainable and high sales and profit growth. And it has backed that strategic focus with heavy investment. If only other UK firms would do that!read more...»
Let's face it. Nearly all of us associate Ikea with flatpack, affordable furniture. The Ikea brand has become a global success and, as we reported on the business blog recently, the Ikea format is well-positioned to achieve further success in key emerging markets.
However, Ikea's business portfolio is not just about furniture retailing.
In March 2013, Ikea announced that it is to partner with Marriott International to open a chain of three-star hotels. The chosen brand name for this joint venture between Marriott and Ikea is Moxy Hotels.read more...»
A superb article here from Reuters which examines the challenges facing Ikea as it accelerates its expansion into key emerging markets, notably China and India.
On the one hand, Ikea aims to exploit its global brand by applying the core retailing concept (epitomized by the store racetrack layout, flatpack goods etc) and core values that have enabled to it to become the world's largest furniture retailer.
However, Ikea also needs to be sensitive to the specific customer needs and wants in each national market if it is to meet customer expectations and compete effectively.read more...»
Kazou Hirai took over as CEO of Sony on 1 April 2012 replacing Howard Stringer. Hirai inherited a business with many problems and experiencing heavy losses. What has he done in his first year?read more...»
The stated mission, vision and values of a business should (in theory) provide a key insight into the strategy and culture of a business. Of course, it's not always the case that stated vision & values are consistent with the way a company does business (think...Enron). However, for many successful businesses there is a clear and sustained link between the two.
Set out below are a selection of web links that provide insights directly from the featured businesses into their vision, values and culture.read more...»
5 minutes of business studies gold here with an interview by Bloomberg with the CEO of global toy brand Lego. It is simply packed with core business concepts including market segmentation, innovation, competitive advantage and finance.
The growth story of Lego is an organic one. The business has never made an acquisition. It focuses on using new product development and innovation as the driver of revenues and profits - to great success. Since 2007, Lego has tripled its revenues globally and achieves an operating profit margin of almost 25%!
The strategy of Lego is summed up nicely by the quote: "We want to be the best, not the biggest".
In the video, Joergen Vig Knudstorp, chief executive officer of Lego, talks about the company's performance and the outlook for growth. Lego, Europe's biggest toymaker, boosted profit and market share in 2012 as demand for its new building block sets for girls propelled sales growth.read more...»
When firms set their strategic, long term aims, they need to have some kind of vision of what the future may hold.read more...»
The FT today publishes a great report on the culture at Amazon's Rugeley distribution centre. An interesting insight into the culture of a cost focussed and highly effiecient business that is described by founder Jeff Bezos as: "Our culture is friendly and intense but if push comes to shove, we'll settle for intense."read more...»
I had been guilty of listening to radio 1 in the past on my cycle in, very useful to get starter ideas or discussion points for GCSE business-Recent changes in the radio 1 product strategy has meant I have switched back to radio 4 (I wish 5 live was on FM!) so good news for my economics class, not so good for my GCSE class! In the Daily mirror today, was a very accessible rport on audience figures- I plan to use it for GCSE to consider segmentation and product extension, for As to support marketing and A2 to support strategy -In the document which I have had put onto TES I have also included some questions on the data to give A level students (and the quicker GCSE students) a chance to number crunch.
Answer are on the final page- Please check before use!
Investors vs Managers vs Employees - a classic example of stakeholder
conflict - is to be examined in a 30-minute radio programme on Monday
evening, spotted by my colleague David Wright and of potential value to teaching Business Studies as well as Economics. Radio 4’s Analysis series will be
looking at “...how the relative power of executives has grown and is now
reflected in their own
much higher financial rewards and enhanced esteem. And if both workers
and investors want to increase their influence and their share of the
rewards how might they go about it?”.
The programme will also look at the power that trades unions held in the 1960’s and 70’s, and how that power was lost. Looks like a useful half hour: BBC Radio 4 on Monday 21st January at 8.30pm.
Entrepreneurs taking calculated risks expect to enjoy suitable rewards for their endeavour. But what are these risks and rewards? And how can an entrepreneur minimise risk? This updated revision presentation provides an overview…read more...»
I’ve taken a lot of interest in Tesco’s overseas strategy, which took them to the United States in 2007 with their Fresh and Easy store chain. The set-up was bold; adding lots of capacity but high fixed costs, meaning the enterprise has consistently struggled to break even. Now Tesco have just confirmed that they are launching a strategic review that may lead to the sale or closure of its US operations. Dramatic news. What’s behind it?read more...»
Royal Mail has reported a huge increase in half-year profits as growth in parcel deliveries made up for a continued fall in the number of letters being sent. This is something of a surprise to many as the business had looked to be in long term decline. The chief executive has summed up the way in which the firm has found success: "Royal Mail has experienced the negative impact of e-substitution, which is driving the structural decline in the traditional letters market. Conversely, we are seeing the positive impact that online retailing is having on our parcel volumes”.
Now that operations are in profit, this might speed up the business’ move from the public sector and into the private sector – a move referred to as privatisation. A future for the Royal Mail in the private sector was referred to in a previous blog. Here’s an update, and a reminder of some of the strategic issues at stake.read more...»
If you've noticed the high-profile Christmas campaign for Aldi this year (see the two example videos below) you may be interested in this article from Yahoo which gives a few pointers as to how the company have managed to turn the recession into a major profit-making opportunity.
Whilst the major TV campaign shows that Aldi are now in a position to market themselves to directly compete with Morrisons, Sainsbury's et al, the article shows how the key to their success lies in the 'Product' aspect of the marketing mix - their profits up by an incredible 200% over the last two years. By minimising the use of big-name brands and concentrating on giving value-for-money with their own home-branded products, Aldi have given cash-conscious consumers a genuine alternative to the more established supermarkets in the UK.read more...»
Here at Eltham College, we are fortunate enough to have our
own art gallery on site. Part of its purpose is to enrich learning across the
curriculum. Opened just 6 months ago, I decided that the gallery was an ideal
start-up case study for my Year 12 Business students to get their teeth into,
so I set them to work on a market research group task with each group focusing
on one of the gallery's key functions: exhibitions, art classes, and a cafe.
As the October 10th deadline approaches, the board of BAE face significant difficulties to
complete the proposed merger with EADS.
Sustainability is a great business topic for discussion. It’s a notoriously slippery and difficult term to define, as the idea means different things to different people. It’s also a concept that has been much refined since it appeared on Business Studies specifications about 10 years ago. When firms talk about environmental sustainability today, they tend to be more focused than just pursuing a vague notion of being ‘environmentally friendly’. Business activity is rarely friendly to the environment. Instead, businesses now talk more about ‘reducing resource use’, from energy to packaging, and water to widgets.
This has really pushed the sustainability concept into the mainstream. Now being ‘Green’ doesn’t have to be purely seen as an ethical or marketing position. Firms increasingly sell it to their shareholders as a way of cutting costs, and therefore boosting profit margins. Justin King, the boss of Sainsbury's, is determined to make the company Britain's most sustainable grocer. This could be a good start point into finding where the debate stands today.read more...»
This concise case study looks at the growth strategy currently being pursued by one of Europe's largest brewers, Heineken International. It deals with many strategic issues relevant to the A2 syllabus and can be a useful case study or discussion topic.
Ah! If you’re roughly my age you’ll remember brands like Mr Kipling cakes, Bird’s custard, Ambrosia creamed rice – even Smash (a bizarre powdered potato product that somehow offered futuristic promise). These products are still around, but their owner, Premier Foods, is struggling for survival and badly needs a plan to manage its portfolio of brands – and even to survive.read more...»
British Aerospace (BAE Systems) and EADS announced that they are discussing a merger.
For colleagues and students with access to FT.com, this short interview with Kraft CEO Irene Rosenfeld is worth a quick read and then bookmarking.read more...»
Business decision-making. Should it be based on science where data is used to analyse and evaluate the options? Or is management intuition and hunch a better bet, basing decisions on the experience and gut-feel of management?
A recent survey of top marketing management reported here in the Harvard Business Review blog suggests that hunch and gut-feel are the dominant methods of decision-making (specifically in strategic marketing). This is despite the increasing availability of detailed marketing data (so-called “Big Data”) which could be used in the decision-making process.read more...»
I’ve just come across a great article outlining the problems of the two 20-something women who now run Merrythought, the British manufacturer behind the Olympic Games’ £85 teddy bears.
There’s plenty to discuss here: it’s not just a question of pricing but production, quality, management, breakeven, investment appraisal, capacity constraints and the search for export markets.read more...»
Moya Greene, the CEO of Royal Mail, describes the currently net profit margin of the business as “skinny” and at a level that is unworthy of a commercial business. So it seems that she still has some way to go in her turnaround strategy for the Royal Mail before the privatisation process is completed.read more...»
Our BUSS4 blog has a series of streamed revision presentations which students may find helpful in supporting their studies ahead of the exam. They are listed below:read more...»
I can’t think of a better case study than Nokia for students to research as an essential part of their advanced business studies. Nokia is a global brand, a market leader and a firm rich in heritage. But it is now battling for survival in a strategic crisis caused by a range of external and internal factors that are core to A2 and similar business strategy specifications. In this note, we’ve outlined some of the main strategic issues facing Nokia and linked to recent supporting resources which students should examine. A well-prepared student getting ready to wow the examiner with relevant evidence-based research in an essay should be ready to include Nokia in an answer!read more...»
In the 1980s and 1990s, Ford embarked on a series of takeovers Jaguar, Volvo, Land Rover, all of which were sold off to meet the firm’s liabilities. It also had built up a substantial stake in the Japanese Mazda company, holding almost 1/3 of the share capital, making a successful bid by rival multinational car makers less likely.
Today’s business news included an announcement that Mazda was forming an alliance with Alfa Romeo develop a new two-seater rear-wheel-drive sports car.read more...»
Cable and Wireless Worldwide has 20,500km of fibre-optic cables in the UK, owning this would mean that Vodafone doesn’t have develop a network from scratch, estimated at £5bn. Vodafone like other mobile operators needs additional capacity to cope with the increased use of smartphones - downloads of music, video, photos etc.read more...»
At our A2 Business revision workshops in March we predicted that Sony would quickly become an essential research case study for students in 2012 and perhaps beyond, as we anticipated the strategic review being carried out by Hirai Kazou as he took over as CEO of Sony from Sir Howard Stringer. Events over recent days have supported that view. Sony’s plight - and proposed turnaround strategy - is packed full with fantastic business strategy materials. Perfect for comparing and contrasting with the likes of Apple, Samsung, Google & HTC.
Hirai’s announcement has been well covered in all the business media, particularly the online business television channels. Here is a selection of clips which help explain the strategy and also provide some examples of experts analysing and evaluating the likely success of the turnaround:
Update: BBC news, May 2012: Sony shares tumble to 31-year low amid record lossesread more...»
Tuning into the news last week I was not surprised to see the Met Police once again under the spotlight for all the wrong reasons (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-17636776). Described as suffering from ‘institutional racism’ by the MacPherson Report in 1999 it appears not a lot has changed at the Met police in the almost 20 years since the racially motivated murder of teenager Stephen Lawrence. So what exactly is going on?read more...»
This revision presentation provides an overview of the core strategic topic of business mission, aims and objectives. The main focus of the presentation is to outline the theory of the use of mission, aims and objectives rather than provide examples of these in context.read more...»
A wonderful topical video clip here from the BBC which introduces pupils to the pros and cons of setting up a Franchise. Four minutes long, the video is perfect as a lesson starter for just about every business course that requires students to develop their understanding of business startups.read more...»
Opinions on this move has sharply divided Lego fans! The Guardian invites its readers to vote on the matter to decide if this step is ‘sexist’ or not. My daughter was seriously unimpressed when her Lego Club magazine arrived this month in a different format to her brother’s copy.
Clearly, the company have decided to put extra resources into refining the market segment for girls’ Lego and developing product lines tailored to their tastes. What else can we say about their strategy?
A short BBC video on Whitbread’s huge strategic shift from brewing to retailing coffee and budget hotels.
Whitbread abandoned beer brewing and pub retailing and off licence sales, an industry in which had been a significant presence since 1742. By 2001, the sector had low profits growth and declining sales. Capital has been diverted into areas with higher growth coffee shops and budget hotels. Whitbread’s main brands include Costa Coffee, Premier Inns.read more...»
Want to buy shares in Facebook? The desire to buy-in to a business which has had such a revolutionary effect on communications will surely be huge. It almost feels like the emotional decision that football fans make when they buy shares in their beloved club. But the canny investor will analyse what they are investing in: is this a business decision in which they can examine the ratios and then the founder’s or directors’ mission statement, in order to assess their chances of gaining a suitable return on their investment?read more...»
Yesterday morning’s business news has been dominated by the proposed merger of Glencore and Xstrata. Glencore’s 34% holding of Xstrata shares had made a third party approach for Xstrata very difficult if not impossible.read more...»
International Airlines Group or BA and Iberia are trying to acquire BMI from Lufthansa.
A move which would allow IAG would gain c. 56 additional take-off and landing slots at Heathrow. Lufthansa had bought up most of BMI’s shares in 2008 but has failed to prevent the group losing money.
HP is an example of a firm which is struggling to integrate acquisitions, and the perils of diversification.
The business pages are buzzing about the impending flotation of Facebook, with some analysts speculating that the implied valuation of Facebook based on the flotation share price will be up to $100billion. It is thought that Facebook will seek to raise approximately $10billion of new share capital through the IPO. But, what should Mark Zuckerberg and his Facebook Board do with the cash raised?read more...»
Here is a real job description for a job vacancy currently being handled by head hunters. The job? Head Coach for the England Rugby Team. A great example of how the functional areas of a business (in this case HRM) link through the the corporate (or strategic) objectives of an organisation.read more...»
You’re probably aware that the John Lewis department stores and Waitrose supermarket chain are doing very well at the moment, with sales figures rising strongly whilst retailers elsewhere are struggling. Several commentators have been keen to go beyond the marketing factors behind their success, instead paying closer attention to the firm’s unusual model of ownership and control.read more...»
Such is the importance of Tesco’s and their dominance of the retail market that the effect of a 2.3% drop in their like-for-like sales knocked almost 16% off their share price yesterday. Perhaps not so much a reflection of the figures themselves - although they compare poorly with Morrison’s and Sainsbury’s both of whom managed to increase their sales over the same period - as the admission by the new CEO Philip Clarke that Tesco’s got their strategy wrong, both in the short and the long term.read more...»
An introductory revision presentation looking at the key operational objectives set by businesses. These include cost and volume targets, quality, efficiency and environmental.read more...»
This new revision presentation provides an introduction to the concept of mission statements and explains how they fit into the hierarchy of business aims and objectives.read more...»
In this new revision presentation, we provide an overview of the hierarchy of business objectives. In particular, we distinguish between corporate objectives (what the business as a whole want to achieve) and functional objectives (what each individual function in the business is required to achieve).read more...»
The woes of the UK High Street had begun long before the Credit Crunch and recession. It seems that a combination of factors (think PEST analysis) have combined to create the difficulties that are squeezing this traditional sector of business activity. Nobody has the answers to saving the High Street, but Mary “Queen of Shops” Portas has given it a go.
Why not try this exercise for yourself?
Firstly, use a form a marketing analysis like PEST or the Porters’ 5 Forces model to identify where the problems lie. Secondly, make 3 recommendations to either firms or governments as to how they might resist the decline (there’s some background here to help). Then read on…read more...»
This makes an ideal example for students considering the challenges of international location in operations management for which they must consider global
markets, cost reduction and avoidance of trade barriers. Here is my plan for the case study and questions which could be set on it:
Could Adidas make a profit from selling branded trainers for $1? Certainly not in any of their developed markets – but since 2008 they have been working on a market development (Ansoff!) strategy which would give them access to the vast market in rural India with a social enterprise venture at a price that local people can afford. The goal of the project, the firm says, is not to maximise profits but to “tackle social issues” by creating jobs.read more...»