An intriguing concept that seems to be catching on; Zappos (and now Amazon) give their new recruits “the offer”; telling the new workers that the company will pay them over $2000 to quit if they’re not sure they’ll be happy at the company.
Whilst it initially seems open to abuse, it’s actually a strategic masterpiece in which the advantages far outweigh the drawbacks. Thus far less than 3% of newbies have taken the offer, and so $2000 is a small price to pay to weed out the employees who are only there for the money. By contrast, those who decline the offer show that they are bought-in to the Zappos culture, which has led to Fortune ranking them amongst the best 100 companies to work for.
Attached is a research task that asks students to evaluate the above strategy and gives great infographics and articles which demonstrate the importance of culture and a happy workforce.
A fantastic concept for students to discuss and an amazing business to research.
Since 1937, Dowty Rotol have been building propellers for aircraft at its plant in Gloucestershire. Its output was for aircraft powered by Rolls Royce or Bristol aero engines. Earlier this week a huge fire destroyed much of its Staverton factory.read more...»
Imagine that you are Mike Coupe, CEO of Sainsbury's. Like the other major supermarkets, you are facing a market which is being shaken up by the food discounters, and declining profit margins as you engage in a price war. There is a growing shift to online retail, and although you had a record number of customer transactions in the week before Christmas, with the top-end Taste the Difference range and Christmas jumpers doing particularly well, in common with your competitors sales were generally down over the festive period. At the end of last year you were forced to report a loss of £290m in the six months to September, and you estimate that within the next five years, a quarter of your stores will have empty floor space and will be too big for your needs. You need a strategy for survival, and to gain some stable income streams which will make use of the assets that you have. What should you do?read more...»
Apple's revenue in 2014 was £160bn. To put that into perspective, it is more than the GDP of Portugal. The £12bn profit that they made in the last three months of last year is the largest profit ever made by a company, and the equivalent of that made by Tesco in ten years - and in the 2.44 minute report about all this on the BBC news tonight, they made another quarter of a million pounds.read more...»
A perfect (yet ridiculous) starter to introduce supermarket competitiveness. This Daily Mash mock-news-article lampoons the ironic concept of the “loyalty” card and highlights the desperate situation that the Big 4 are facing due to the unstoppable growth of the loyalty-card-less Aldi and Lidl.
It can be used as a spring board for discussions on customer loyalty, Unique Selling Points (or lack thereof), reliability of sources and strategies in the face of increasing competition.
To ensure students don’t quote the above article in their BUSS4 exam, below are some more serious ones from a reputable source!
Good news for UK manufacturing this week, as Jaguar Land Rover announce a rise in sales of 9% globally, with a quarter of those going to China, a 7% rise in the UK, as Land Rover have their best ever year and Jaguar their best for a decade.read more...»
The race to produce the best driverless car is on! Most of the automotive “big boys” are working on their versions, but it’s interesting to see the varied approaches taken by Google and Audi. Attached is a PowerPoint task that ask students to watch the 2 car “adverts” and analyse the risks and rewards of the different strategies.
Google are playing it safe, perhaps heeding the Harris Poll of 2,039 adults, in which 88 percent said they would be worried about riding in an autonomous, driverless car. Their car is round, cute, friendly and slow.
Audi have chosen another path… a much faster path! Their “piloted” car achieved speeds of 149mph and completed a lap of the Hockenheim F1 track a few seconds faster than the manned car.
Intriguing stuff that is certain to create great debate.
Have a fantastic Christmas!
The case of Premier Foods and the 'pay to stay' payments that they were extracting from their suppliers gives an opportunity to use the Porter's Five Forces model to analyse the food manufacturing industry in the UK. Last week, BBC's Newsnight carried a report about Premier Foods, who manufacture many key brands including Ambrosia, Mr Kipling, Oxo and Bisto.
The online report comes with a 5-minute video clip which sets up the topic nicely. Newsnight's Laura Kuenssberg interviews engineer Bob Horsely, who had a contract to supply maintenance services to Ambrosia's factory in Devon. He received a letter from Premier Foods saying that "We are aiming to work with a smaller number of strategic suppliers in the future that can better support and invest in our growth ideas. We will now require you to make an investment payment to support our growth." When he queried this, he received another letter: "We are looking to obtain an investment payment from our entire supply base and unfortunately those who do not participate will be nominated for de-list." In other words, pay up or we won't buy from you any more.read more...»
A fantastic documentary for the Section A Research Theme (bullets 2, 4 & 5), that also ticks a great many boxes for the BUSS1, 2 & 3 specifications.
Channel 4’s Inside Rolls Royce charts the production of the Celestial (a one-off showpiece car that has more bling than Liberace, as well as an optional £20,000 picnic hamper!). It covers many topics within Human Resources, Operations, and Marketing, but my highlights are as follows:
- The front of house manager who checks the length of the grass
- The relentless quality control that almost breaks a man
- The marketing of the new Rolls Royce Wraith in Abu Dhabi, which includes hand selected movers-and-shakers from the city getting to test drive it around the formula 1 track
The documentary is available via this link (if you don’t have a C4 account, it takes only 2 minutes to register) and I’ve created a worksheet with 29 questions (numbers correspond to the minutes) intended to promote discussion about a brand synonymous with British excellence.
Hope it helps
There must have been a siege mentality at Tesco recently, as they are locked in hand-to-hand battle with Asda and Sainsbury, and find that they are outflanked by Aldi and Lidl. Whether that justifies some of the tactics being employed to regain the upper hand, or the financial relationships they have had with suppliers for the last few years, is being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office, and is increasingly coming under public scrutiny. What could be the worst outcome for them: a serious fine which erodes their already-battered budgets, a change in accounting practices forced on them by the outcome of the SFO investigation, a real shift in the supplier/buyer power relationship that has so far seen Tesco, the buyer, with huge advantage, or a significant change in public trust and their relationship with their customers?read more...»
The need for supply chains supporting UK manufacturing to be significantly strengthened has been highlighted by a new research report from the CBI and consultants AT Kearney.read more...»
If a business sees a market segment in which sales are predicted to double to the scale of 15% of the total market in the next five years, you would expect them to be quick to find ways to enter it. However, if you are Sainsbury's, and have a carefully nurtured image and market position to protect, you might baulk at rushing into the discount segment of the market, in case it interfered with that image or cannibalised your market.read more...»
Competitiveness - and specifically the need to be cost-effective - is at the heart of a significant announcement by one of the UK's most significant manufacturers Rolls Royce.read more...»
The strategic challenges facing Royal Mail and its renowned CEO Moya Greene are explored in this superb FT video report (below) from Andrew Hill which takes a look at Royal Mail just a year after the business was privatised.read more...»
As we all know, the mean streets of my adopted home town of Solihull share many similarities with Dr Dre’s Compton and Jay-Z’s Brooklyn, so I always take a keen interest in their progress.
This PowerPoint task asks students to research two of hip-hop’s biggest stars, use Ansoff’s Matrix to organise the many roles and businesses that they are involved in and then discuss how their contrasting strategies have impacted on their net worth.
Is Jay-Z’s “empire [building] state of mind” the best strategy, or is Dr Dre’s focus on music “still” the way to make the most money? Students can use the evidence that they have collated to complete the evaluation question on the final slide.
Hope it helps!
Tesco's share price slid again today, although the firm has announced that the new Finance Director Alan Stewart started work three months earlier than expected.read more...»
News about Tesco's troubles comes thick and fast, today's bad news about overstating profits has wiped off 11.59% of the share price. It fell by 26 pence to £2.03.read more...»
A fascinating video here from the excellent Peter Marsh of the FT which explores the complexity of manufacturing operations at the world's largest eyewear maker Luxottica.
You probably haven't heard of Luxottica, but you will almost certainly be familiar with their broad product range. Luxottica's best known brands are Ray-Ban, Persol and Oakley. It also makes sunglasses and prescription frames for a multitude of designer brands such as Chanel and Prada, whose designs and trademarks are used under license.
In total, Luxottica is estimated to have around 80% of the global market for eyewear. It is also a vertically-integrated business with over 7,000 retail outlets around the world, many them trading under the Sunglass Hut brand.
Luxottica has six plants in Italy and two in China.
In the video, Peter Marsh introduces the concept of networked manufacturing. This concept is explained further by this excellent Economist article. The close integration of marketing (new product development & brand / product portfolio management) with operations is a key theme explored in the video.read more...»
Where should multinationals base their manufacturing operations? What are the risks involved in changing location? How can these risks be mitigated?read more...»
As an interesting way to introduce 3 of the 4 functional areas (and illustrate to students that business studies concepts are everywhere), I used these 3 news stories about how different religions have changed their strategies this year.
Pope Francis stamps out corruption in the Vatican Bank - By refusing to “do business” with certain unscrupulous customers, the profit at the Vatican Bank has dropped from £68m euros to just £2.3m. A strong move from Il Papa, but should a church make any profit at all?
Jehovah’s Witnesses change their marketing strategy - Instead of the door-to-door approach, Jehovah’s witnesses are trying to increase awareness of (and recruitment to) their “brand” by targeting train stations and shopping centres. Will this new tactic prove successful?
Church of England vote for women bishops - Traditionalist believed that as Jesus only “employed” male apostles, only men should lead the church. A recent vote has put an end to this misogyny, but one member of the church said “This is a show for the media. It's the end of the Church as we know it”. Should the church be exempt from the Sex Discrimination Act?
The lesson has now ended. All go in peace.
Which airline boss has said for many years that “an airplane is nothing more than a bus with wings on”?
Of course, the answer is Michael O'Leary, the CEO of Ryanair - Europe's biggest budget airline.
But, as Ryanair's passenger figures show that 25% of their customers are actually travelling on business, they have decided that now is the time to introduce a 'Business Class' service.read more...»
A superb article here from The Economist that should be essential reading for all students required to develop their understanding of corporate social responsibility (“CSR”) and, specifically, the concept of sustainability.read more...»
If you are looking for a good recent example of how takeovers can destroy returns for shareholders (of the investing business), then add Morrison’s purchase of Kiddicare to the list!read more...»
The Co-operative Group, which has endured a pretty horrific period recently, is now firmly on a path of retrenchment. It is starting to take some substantial steps to dispose of business units in order to reduce the group’s high level of debts (gearing) and to focus the group on core activities.read more...»
Are there too many brands chasing the available demand of households and other consumers? That's the view of AG Lafley, the CEO of Procter & Gamble ("P&G") - one of the world's leading multinationals in the fast-moving consumer goods ("FMCG") sector.
P&G has announced that it will look to focus on a much smaller number of consumer brands and cull up to 100 brands from its extensive product portfolio. In a classic example of product portfolio management, P&G wants to focus on those 70-80 key brands that have existing strong market shares and/or fast growth prospects.read more...»
If business students are looking for a different example of how effective leadership can drive successful change, then they should add Sergio Marchionne to their research.
Sergio Marchionne was initially best-known for leading the turnaround of the Italian automotive group Fiat. More recently, Marchionne has led the transformation of US automotive group Chrysler, taking Chrysler from the brink of bankruptcy at the lowest point of the financial crisis in 2008/9 to profitability.
Marchionne took over as CEO of Fiat in 2004 and was able to return the struggling Italian car manufacturer to profitability with two years. He first connected with Chrysler when a strategic alliance was formed between Chrysler and Fiat (who took a 20% shareholding) as part of a US government-backed rescue of Chrysler as it tried to avoid bankruptcy. When Chrysler was able to pay off various US government loans in 2011, Fiat was left with a stake of over 50%. Since then, Fiat have been negotiating with a Chrysler employee trust in the US (which holds a substantial remainder of the shares in Chrysler) to complete a full takeover. A deal was finally agreed in early 2014 with the formalities now being completed.read more...»
The world’s largest multinationals are in a constant search for revenue and profit growth, with many targeting emerging markets as the best source of growth that will satisfy their shareholders.read more...»
The headline above from the FT really caught my eye this morning. Tata Group, perhaps best known in the UK for its ownership of Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) and Corus, has set out ambitious plans to invest $35bn in capital spending over the next three years as part of its vision for the next 10 years.read more...»
Foxconn, the Taiwanese electronics manufacturer best known for building Apple products, is increasingly adopting a strategy of diversification in response to rising labour costs in China.read more...»
Here is a small, but good example of vertical integration in action with a takeover by Sky of the production company behind the likes of Great British Bake-Off and Benefits Street.
Vertical integration arises when a firm buys a business at an earlier or later stage of the supply chain. In this case, Sky is undertaking "backwards vertical integration" - by investing in a controlling stake in one of the many television production companies that provide programming for Sky and other channels.
It looks like there may be some significant revenue synergies available to Sky as a result of its investment. For example we are told that "Sky's distribution business, Sky Vision, will promote Love Production's formats and programmes to networks overseas.".
This will be a dynamic business story that will be essential for business students to follow closely over the coming months. Tesco has announced the appointment of Dave Lewis to replace Philip Clarke as CEO with effect from 1 October 2014.
This decision is significant for many reasons, not the least that Dave Lewis has never been a retailer, nor has he ever been a CEO. Nevertheless, Lewis was the man that Tesco wanted (he was headhunted) and he has a superb track record at Unilever, one of the world’s leading multinationals in the FMCG sector (“fast-moving consumer goods”).read more...»
Satya Nadella, the new CEO of Microsoft who has taken over from Steve Ballmer, has announced that 18,000 jobs will be cut by 2015. These are the largest job losses in Microsoft's history and represents around 14% of Microsoft's total workforce. This is the classic action of a new CEO opting for a strategy of retrenchment as a way of imposing his/her views on the appropriate strategic direction.read more...»
Some news in the same week as Philip Clarke's high profile departure from Tesco, is that Karl Albrecht, who founded German discount supermarket chain Aldi with his brother Theo, has died. The success and growth of Aldi (an abbreviation of Albrecht discount) is one of the thorns in the side of Tesco, and one reason for the profits warning that they announced yesterday, along with several other problems that Clarke inherited when he took over from Sir Terry Leahy three years ago. There is plenty to analyse in the criticism of Tesco's strategy, but also worth considering what it is that has enabled Aldi to break into the market, and how they have moved to a position of having 19% of those in the AB socio-economic catergory shopping in their stores.read more...»
This streamed revision presentation examines the problems of takeovers and mergers including difficulties integrating businesses successfullyread more...»
This streamed revision presentation outlines some evidence of the impact on, and reaction of, stakeholders to takeovers and mergersread more...»
This streamed revision presentation looks at the impact of takeovers andmergers on the performance of the businesses involved.read more...»
This streamed revision presentation considers the factors influencing the success of takeovers and mergersread more...»
This streamed revision presentation considers the motives for takeovers and mergers and how these link with corporate strategyread more...»
How on earth is Starbucks making a success of its push into China? China is a tea-drinking nation. In fact, China has the world's oldest and largest tea-drinking culture. Chinese people hate coffee – they say it tastes so bitter it is like tasting medicine.
But, look at the evidence. Starbucks has been in China for 13 years, with an initial presence in the major tier 1 cities Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Starbucks expects China to become its second-largest market by 2014 aiming to have 1,500 outlets throughout China by 2015. The number of staff employed by Starbucks in China is forecast to rise from 12,000 to 30,000.
According to the latest Euromonitor report, Starbucks has a 60 per cent share of China's emerging coffee house market, well above its closest competitor.
That sounds like a success story. So how has it done it?read more...»
This is a terrific article from BusinessWeek on the growth strategy of Xiaomi, a Chinese business that is fast-becoming one of the countries best-known global brands.
Lots in the article (and the related video which I have added further below) for business students to note - I have jotted down some of the things I spotted below.
We've written before about Xiaomi and it is certainly an important business to watch - take a look at the other business blog articles on Xiaomi.read more...»
My students and I invariably use Tesco as our shining example of failure in China (and failure after the departure of a long-term leader, and failure due to over-diversification, and failure due to neglect of their core market, and failure due to complacency over smaller competitors). However, Tesco today finalised the deal with China Resource Enterprise which gives them 20% of the largest food retailer in China. This BBC article could be used as a nice evaluation point to show that in the long term, Tesco could still be winners in China.
Tesco have kept a healthy foothold in the world’s largest food market, and due to China’s efforts to rebalance the economy towards consumption, the market is due to grow by 50% over the next three years.
More interestingly, Tesco appear to have learnt from their error and won’t try to “go it alone” in India. They have announced a joint venture with JLR’s parent company Tata Group to initially open 12 stores. From what we know of Tata (and the Indian market’s rapid growth forecast), it seems possible that Tesco may still recover from their recent slump.
If students are looking for a research example of a business that is truly built around a deliberate attempt to create and nurture a strong organisational culture, they need look no further than online shoe retailer Zappos.
Tony Hsieh - the founder of Zappos (bought by Amazon in 2009) wanted to build a business based around a simple idea. That it - if you get the organisational culture right - then everything else that you need to be successful will fall into place.
Is he right?read more...»
2 perfectly contrasting and counter-intuitive articles that show how “the markets” can favour retrenchment over growth.
Barclays announced it was slashing 19,000 jobs and reducing the size of its Investment bank. The immediate result? Share price surged 8%.
Carphone Warehouse announce a £3.8bn merger with Dixons that will “create a seamless experience” for their customers. The result? Dixons share price closed 10% down and Carphone Warehouse’s dropped by 8%.
By comparing and contrasting the 2 strategies (and the reasons for the resultant change in share price) students can show good analysis of the benefits of retrenchment.
Anthony Jenkins, in an interview in the Sunday Times, said it best by echoing/paraphrasing/plagiarising Howard Schultz after he closed almost 1000 Starbucks stores in the US - “Growth is not a strategy, it’s the by-product of good strategy”.
I hope the revision is going well!
In true tutor2u style, here we have an adapted resource that asks students to decide whether the annual sales ($bn, 2013) of one major global brand is 'higher' or 'lower' than another. The original resource was an economics activity comparing the GDP growth of different countries (available from this link).
This resource has been compiled by Paul Hoang, using data from Fortunes Top 100 companies. It is an interactive Powerpoint game that asks students to string together as long a sequence of correct answers as possible (the highest possible score is 36). The screen shows one business and its annual sales revenue for last year and then shows the name of a second business. The student has to say whether they think the annual sales revenue of the second company is higher or lower then that of the first business. Answer correctly they are offered another business to compare. Answer incorrectly, the student is 'out' and someone else can be invited to play.
This is a fun, interactive resource that gives students an insight into the relative sales figures of some of the world's major companies.
Click this link to download the resource.
The strategy of retrenchment is covered in this revision quiz
To update your knowledge and understanding of retrenchment, have a look through this revision presentation
Test your knowledge and understanding of Porter's Five Forces model with this ten-question revision quiz:
You can update your studies of this important model by looking through these support resources:
Here are 15 multiple-choice questions that test your knowledge and understanding of the key strategy models used in A2 business
Virgin Galactic is Richard Branson's dream to provide suborbital space flights to space tourists by 2015, and it provides a wealth of Business Studies concepts for AS and A2.
Firstly, the premium price of £150,000 to £250,000 (the cost of decent Rolls Royce to you or me) means it has a very specific target market; over 700 space tourists have signed up, with one third from America (the other two thirds come from over 50 different countries), most are millionaire men in their 50s and are definitely not risk-averse. Akin to Branson, many stated the moon landing of 1969 as the reason for their purchase.
In her quest for a new USP, Lady Gaga will be swapping her meat suit for a space one and be first earthling to sing live from space, ensuring that she maintains her outlandish, cutting edge image.
JLR & Virgin
These 2 iconic British brands are expanding the empire, and for BUSS4 students, the long-term partnership between JLR and Virgin, with their “shared vision of pioneering spirit, technological innovation and sense of adventure”, provides information for almost every section of the specification.
The CNBC article focuses on the technological innovations in JLRs new concept SUV.
In this short video, Richard Branson discusses his dream and vision, how JLR will aid Virgin in creating a completely new market and, to show that it’s not all about profit and pride, he hopes it will inspire future generations to pursue careers in engineering and science.
Abu Dhabi and beyond
Finally, Abu Dhabi state-controlled investment fund paid $280 million for a 32% stake in the business, in return for "regional rights to launch Virgin Galactic tourism and scientific research space flights from the United Arab Emirates capital". It sees this as an Investment opportunity to progress from an international tourism hub, to an inter-galactic one, with this article suggesting Virgin space hotels in galaxies far far away!
Boston Consulting Group have produced a fascinating new report which investigates the competitiveness of the world's top 25 goods exporting nations. Their press release highlights significant changes in the world order over the last decade. The newly-minted BCG Global Manufacturing Cost-Competitiveness Index incorporates four factors: energy costs, productivity, wages and exchange rates. That analysis shows that Mexico now has lower manufacturing costs than China, while Brazil is now one of the highest-cost countries, and the UK is the cheapest location in western Europe.