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A fascinating and useful profile here from The Economist of Zhang Ruimin, the Chinese entrepreneur who has guided Haier through a successful strategy of international expansion.
Ruimin challenged the preconception that Chinese manufactured goods could be produced very cheaply but to a poor quality. His relentless focus on higher production quality has enabled Haier to become the world's largest producer of "white goods" such as washing machines, fridges and freezers.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 strong sign here of the increasing competitive strength of businesses based in China that wish to expand into other markets around the world. US-based venture capitalist KKR has invested around $550m for a 10% stake in Qingdao Haier, China's largest refrigerator and washing machine maker.
We have mentioned Haier before on the Business Blog as a good example of an emerging markets multinational corporation (EMMC) and Haier is also recommended as a case study for students researching China & Emerging Markets for AQA BUSS4.read more...»
More than half of U.S.-based manufacturing executives at companies with sales greater than $1 billion are planning to bring back production to the U.S. from China or are actively considering it, according to a new survey by The Boston Consulting Group.
The share of executives who are planning to "onshore" or “reshore” or are considering it rose to 54 percent, compared with 37 percent of executives who responded to a similar BCG survey in February 2012.read more...»
Here's Lei Jun (on the left). Notice something familiar about him? The blue jeans; dark top and introducing a shiny new smartphone to present to the world's media. Uncanny.
Lei Jun is the founder and CEo of a firm called Xiaomi which the Chinese media have nicknamed the “Apple of the East."
Lei Jun himself is also increasingly being called the "Steve Jobs of China" - and not just for his dress sense and presentational style!read 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...»
It looks to me like the last throw of the dice. A final attempt to cut costs, stem rising losses and rationlise a business so that a buyer can be found - even in its current distressed state. But will the announcement of 4,500 job losses be enough to save Blackberry?read more...»
Just why have so many Western retail giants struggled to succeed in China? If global retailers like Walmart, Tesco, Carrefour and Best Buy have struggled, what hope is there for the rest?read more...»
Say the word e-commerce in the US, UK and many other developed economies and one word usually comes to mind – Amazon. The Seattle-based multinational claims to be the world's largest online retailer. It has highly diversified operations that have taken the business well beyond the original proposition - selling books online. CEO and Founder Jeff Bezos launched Amazon.com in 1995 and over the next two decades Amazon has expanded its retail websites to dominate the market in Canada, the UK, France, Germany and elsewhere.
However, in China, say e-commerce and a different "A" word is on everyone's lips. Alibaba is a private Chinese company that is now the largest business-to-business and consumer-to-consumer company in the world. Amazon might dominate global business-to-consumer online retailing. But, in China, Amazon has a very small market share and it is Alibaba that dominates.
In fact, Alibaba can legitimately claim to be the world’s leading e-commerce business. Reports suggest that Alibaba handled total sales of $170 billion in 2012 – which is more than the transaction value handled by Amazon ($96bn) and eBay ($75bn) combined!
After more than eight years of effort, Amazon has less than 1 per cent of China’s $196bn e-commerce market. Alibaba is estimated to have a market share of nearer 75 per cent.
To put this into perspective, China’s e-commerce market is already the largest in the world and by 2020 is forecast to be bigger than the existing markets in the USA, UK, Japan, Germany and France combined. So Alibaba’s market share of over 70% makes it a very big player indeed.read more...»
Businesses from outside China trying to sell in China face a critical question as they try to enter China. How far should they go to adapt or redesign (“localise”) their products and services to meet the needs and wants of customers in China? Should they adapt existing products just enough to appeal to consumers in China? Or should they look to start again – rethinking the product or service from the ground up – in order to established a position in the market and then gain market share?
Yum! Brands is a multinational that operates or licenses Kentucky Fried Chicken ("KFC"), Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and other small restaurant brands worldwide. Yum! is the world's largest fast food restaurant company in terms of outlets with more than 39,000 restaurants around the world in over 125 countries and global sales of over $12bn.
For the last decade, Yum! Brands has relied upon international expansion as the main driver of revenue and profit growth. China in particular has proved to be a significant source of growth. For example, KFC has opened an average of one new outlet per day in China and has an objective of reaching 15,000 outlets.
KFC has achieved this high rate of growth by adopting the concept of localisation. It has largely ignored the traditional model of KFC outlets in the US and other developed economies - that of a franchise operation with a limited menu, low prices and an emphasis on customers taking-out their food and drink to consume. Instead, the KFC model in China was redesigned to meet local needs.read more...»
In early 2013 the BBC asked global brand research company Millward Brown to identify the 20 most powerful foreign brands in China: the ones that have gone in and succeeded where many others have failed.
When the results came back one noticeable feature was that one company - Procter and Gamble ("P&G") - had three of the top 5 brands!
Of course you might expect P&G to be successful in China. After all, P&G is the world's largest maker of household and personal-care products. At the start of this decade P&G had set itself an ambitious corporate objective. It aimed to add 1 billion customers by 2015 (a 25% increase) and P&G were clear that emerging markets would be crucial in achieving that goal. Of all the emerging markets, P&G is strongest in China, which by 2012 had become its second-biggest national market with around 6% of the firm's worldwide sales.
So how has P&G managed to achieve such a strong position in China? Why had P&G succeeded when so many other Western brands had struggled to establish a leading position there?
To understand the achievement, you need to go right back to when foreign firms were first allowed to enter China. Here are some key features of the P&G approach to building its business in China.read more...»
If they want to grow, multinationals based in developed economies have to make emerging markets their number 1 strategic priority.
That's the view of the CEO of Tupperware - Rick Goings.
"Customers that want growth simply must be where the growth is" said Rick Goings in his contribution to a major survey about multinational strategy in emerging markets.read more...»
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...»
It's all over for Nokia CEO Stephen Elop and his 32,000 employees in the core of Nokia - their mobile phones (handset) business. After several years of struggling to turn the business around in the face of intensive competition from Apple, Samsung, Google, Huawei and others, Elop has decided the best option is to sell the business to Microsoft.read more...»
This looks like a must-watch and must-record series from Robert Peston. Robert's new three-part series takes us behind the scenes of some of Britain's most successful retailers and also explores their history, heritage and organisational culture. Robert Peston Goes Shopping is on at 9 p.m. on Monday nights starting 2 September. Fantasticread more...»
CK Prahalad once wrote of the "fortune at the bottom of the pyramid" - reflecting the commercial opportunities for businesses that can successfully connect and bring products to markets inhabited by low income consumers whose living standards are on the rise. China's fast-growing economy provides an enormous opportunity, but how can companies win sales in the Chinese interior, hundreds of miles away from the coastal centres of commerce?
As wealth and consumerism reach China's most remote cities, foreign brands are venturing far from Shanghai and Beijing hoping to win over millions of new consumers. The FT's Patti Waldmeir visits two lower tier cities in central China and looks at how Adidas is expanding in the far outposts of the Middle Kingdom.read more...»
For years, BSKYB has dominated the market for subscription-based television using the rights to broadcast high-profile sports to attract and retain household subscribers. However, the markets for consumer media consumption are converging and this has led to the emergence of a new, powerful competitor for BSkyB - BT Sports.read more...»
An excellent case study here in how to grow a business through expansion into faster-growing international markets.read more...»
Harriet Green's strategy for Thomas Cook looks like it might become a classic case study in how to achieve a successful turnaround for a business with a strong brand and customer base but a weak balance sheet (gearing too high).
Before Green could get the balance sheet right through a refinancing, she had to get the business right first. She needed to change the organisational structure and improve profitability and medium-term cash flow through a strategy of retrenchment. This has been a painful process but it made it much easier when Thomas Cook approached the stock market to raise new share capital (equity) and reduce the amount of debt.
This short interview with Harriet Green is packed full with great A2 business studies materials as she explains the basics of her turnaround strategy.read more...»
We've featured Blackberry CEO Thorsten Heins and the plight of smartphone brand Blackberry several times here on the Business Studies Blog and in our BUSS4 exam workshops. Over the summer of 2013, things have not gone well for Blackberry despite the launch of two crucial new products in March 2013 and now the future of Blackberry's parent company - RIM - is in doubt.read more...»
Microsoft has announced that its CEO Steve Ballmer will retire from the business within the next 12 months. The Microsoft share price rose 9% on news of the announcement which might tell you something about how investors feel about how Ballmer has performed as CEO in recent years!
Lots will be written about Ballmer's time at Microsoft and the resulting strategic review which the business will inevitably conduct when a new CEO is appointed.
However, for now, enjoy a selection of videos which show Steve Ballmer in action! He has certainly attracted lots of attention for his unusual leadership style!read more...»
Collaboration and innovation are often fast-tracked by creating the right spaces for people and ideas to mingle.
This seven minute video from the Economist is deeply interesting - it looks at the Artisan's Asylum near Boston, Massachusetts in the USA which is host to a number of new hardware businesses. They are built around cheap work space, high-tech tools and crowd-sourced funding. The project has spawned some notable success stories many built around digital 3D printing - is there anything like an equivalent Maker Movement in the UK?read more...»
I've been updating my records of large takeovers and mergers in recent years and looking at whether shareholder value was created or destroyed by each deal.
One takeover which strikes me as being highly successful is that of YouTube by Google. Here is some evidence that supports that view.read more...»
Here’s a nice summer concept to consider. Suppose the future is much brighter than we commonly imagine. In fact, so good that within a few years the common problems we associate with scarcity will be a thing of the past.
My holiday reading has taken me in this direction, and it’s a fantastic idea to grapple with. How will business and the economy adapt to deliver this Promised Land? And what will it mean when we get there?read more...»
I finished my academic year with a discussion of innovation, and new ideas. On an optimistic note, I've just seen that the UK comes second in a new ranking of global innovation.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...»
John Lewis are opening a store at Heathrow terminal 2, which will be the Partnership's smallest store, the first away from town and city centres and an important step in their international strategy. For a while I’ve been looking at the idea of place in the John Lewis marketing mix, and the business has clearly identified deeper trends in retail location.read more...»
It’s three years now since we got excited at T2U by the budget hotel concept (there’s a reminder link here) and the format seems to have been a success. Imitation by Whitbread, with their new 'hub by Premier Inn' format suggests this is a successful innovation.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.
This is a long running story, in which Royal Mail is (probably) preparing to leave the public sector and become a private company - a process known as privatisation. Recently, rising profits at the business had made its privatisation seem more likely, but Royal Mail workers have just voted overwhelmingly against the government's controversial plan to sell off the 497-year-old postal service.read more...»
A good visual way of analysing your BUSS4 research organisations for both Section A and B is to relate them to different concepts or models. (apologies for the drawings in the picture above) To go even further could be to link elements of some of these models and concepts together which can give a more in-depth, holistic view of the organisations in relation to some key BUSS4 topics. I have started to get my students to relate them to the following 6:
The link between Leadership, Values and Organisational Culture will be a familiar one for BUSS4 students. This video “Simon Sinek: How Great Leaders Inspire Action” from TED talks is a simple and really interesting way to make these links. It’s summed up by a “Golden Circle” and 3 words: What, How and Whyread more...»
At what stage does organisational culture need to fundamentally change?
A great example here of a European manufacturing business that is attempting to compete based on product differentiation compared with the cost leadership approach adopted by competitors relying on mass production techniques.read more...»
A fascinating, short interview here with Tim Cook, CEO of Apple.
Cook compares Apple's performance to its competitors, and explains his product strategy in an onstage interview.
His argument is clear. Apple's strategy is one of differentiation, not cost leadership based on market-leading scale. For Apple, it is not about making the most of each of the product categories in which it has a presence - it is about making the best in the market.
So, Samsung is now the clear global market leader in mobile phones (including the fast-growing smartphone segment). But Cook argues that Apple makes the best phone. Compare the iPhone 5 with the Samsung Galaxy S4 - is he right?
For students, an important question to consider is this - what the key advantages that a successful strategy of product differentiation can bring? And can it be sustained against the intensive competition that Apple is facing from the likes of Samsung, Google and Huawei?read more...»
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.
Do you have a set a core values? What deeply held beliefs shape the way you see the world and how you act?
Your core values underpin the way in which you behave, act, and how you live your life. So, if someone asked you to list your two most important values, what would they be?
I ask the question because the concept of core values is essential to understanding organisational culture.
Indeed I would hope that the role of core values would feature in many high-scoring BUSS4 essays for students answering questions about organisational culture – they are important!read more...»
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 a couple of years ago) 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...»
“Our strategy is delivering. The transformation of Royal Mail is well underway”.
That’s the view of Moya Greene, CEO of Royal Mail, as she announced the full year results for Royal Mail to 31 March 2013 today.
As students who attended our BUSS4 Exam Coaching Workshops will recall, I think that Royal Mail is one of the very best research case studies to use for both Section A (organisational culture) and Section B essays in the BUSS4 exam.
The latest financial results of Royal Mail Group are packed full with useful insights and data which could be used effectively to support paragraph points in a BUSS4 essay.
Here are just a few examples:read more...»
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...»
Could Google Glass have as transformational effect on our lives as the smartphone? Yes is the answer - according to leading venture capitalist Marc Andreessen - who explains why in the CNN video below.
Rory Cellan-Jones from the BBC has also been examining Google Glass. In this article Rory asks whether Google Glass is the most exciting technology product of recent years, or whether it might turn out to be the 21st Century equivalent of the Sinclair C5!read more...»
We've previously highlighted the arrival of Harriet Green as the new CEO of Thomas Cook as a great research example for business students. New CEOs - particularly those recruited externally - tend to dive straight into "strategic reviews" which then result in changes in strategic direction, disposal of non-core businesses etc. Harriet Green is no exception. And in this YouTube clip, she outlines her proposed strategy for the ailing travel industry business.
The clip is almost two hours in length. However, it is the first section (from about 3 minutes 30 in) which is particularly interesting and relevant for business students. You get a strong sense of Harriet Green's personality from the presentation and a clear statement of her strategic objectives for the business.read more...»
Students looking for a great example of how a UK business can transform its fortunes by focusing on the opportunities in emerging markets need look no further than JCB.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.
I've become increasingly convinced from recent discussions with major accountancy firms and other major employers that workplace learning is going to challenge the preeminence of universities and colleges when it comes to obtaining higher level qualifications. The emergence of some industrial-strength Higher Apprenticeship programmes recently is a sign of that. And so to is the news that John Lewis Partnership is to extend its programme of workplace learning to offer Level 6 (university degree level) qualifications for some of its management.
This story would provide the basis for some excellent analysis by students exploring how and why John Lewis Partnership has decided to extend its internal training programmes.
Some clues can be found in extracts from the JLP press release: for example;
The so-called "University of John Lewis" will also offer a number of other development initiatives through its ‘skills programme’, which will include training in product knowledge, line management and leadership. read more...»
"Our partners give us our competitive edge, and if we want them to stay with us for the long term, we need to make sure that they have the right skills to meet the challenges we face in an evolving retail environment."
The horrific Bangladesh factory disaster has highlighted a number of business issues and proved a stark reminder of the global effects our purchasing decisions may or may not have on people halfway around the world. Tom White has already put up a blog with some initial thoughts; I thought I’d pose some further questions and examine some of the issues raised in that post.
A great starting point would be to listen to the ever-reliable Business Daily, from the BBC World Service. Their programme In the Balance invites guests to debate a topical business issue, and this week, the Rana Plaza disaster was under discussion.
One of the first questions to ask is to examine the extent to which firms which are supplied by such factories are responsible. There were more immediate causes, of course, such as the owner’s actions and the culpability of local regulation and enforcement (or lack of). But this is not the first time there have been such disasters, nor are the poor conditions in such factories surprising. So is it right that chains such as Primark continue to use such suppliers? Isn’t it their fault, with their demands for low prices and increased flexibility to meet the needs of the fast fashion market? Do they have a responsibility to ensure fair and safe working practices in factories they don’t own and which they are merely customers of? A lot of people would argue that yes, they do. But isn’t that the same as arguing we as consumers should audit the supply chains of the shops which we buy from? Primark is as much a customer as we are.
I’ve come across a great article and video clip about the problems faced by a company whose business boomed overnight. A nice problem to have, and an interesting problem too!read more...»
For Sony's CEO Kazou Hirai - a promise is a promise.
Back in April 2012, when Kazou Hirai took over as CEO from Sir Howard Stringer, he pledged to restore Sony's troubled Consumer Electronics division to profitability within one year.
In a significant programme of retrenchment, Sony has shed over 10,000 jobs (about 6% of the workforce), sold off major property assets and substantially cut production at the heavily loss-making Sony Television business (which is a significant part of the Consumer Electronics division). The result is expected to be Sony's first corporate profit for five years when it reports final result for the year to 31 March 2013 in May. However, the Consumer Electronics division remains unprofitable - Sony has not met its objective.
The reaction by Hirai? It is reported that forty of Sony’s top executives, including Hirai, are to give up bonuses worth between 30 and 50 per cent of their pay. The decision will save Sony around $10m, which is not particularly significant in financial terms.read more...»