Is Strengthening the Super dry Brand a Foundation to Strategic Success?

British -base d Supe rGroup , owne r of Supe rdry an d its ca refully bande d produc t lines , is tak ing ac tion s

to dea l with recen t pe rformanc e prob lems. Thes e prob lems man ifes ted the mse lve s in va riou s ways ,

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inc lud ing the nee d for the firm to issu e three profit warning s in on e six-mon th pe riod an d a 34 pe rcen t

dec line in the price of its stoc k in 201 4 co mpa red to

2013 .

Founde d in 1985 , the firm is recogn ize d as a distinc tive , brande d fash ion retailer se lling qua lity clothing

an d accesso ries . In fac t, the firm say s tha t “the Supe rdry bran d is at the hea rt of the bus iness .” Th e

bran d is targeted to disce rning cus tomers who see k to pu rchas e “stylish clothing tha t is un ique ly

des igne d an d well made .” In this sense , the co mpan y be lieve s tha t its men ’s an d women ’s produc ts

hav e “wide appea l, cap turing elemen ts of ‘urban ’ an d ‘stree twea r’ des ign s with sub tle co mbina tion s of

vintag e Americana , Japanes e image ry, an d British tailoring , all with stron g atten tion to de tail.” Thus ,

the firm’s bran d is critica l to the imag e it convey s with its historica l targe t cus tomer— teen s an d thos e in

the ir ea rly twen ties . Thos e lead ing Supe rGrou p be liev e tha t cus tomers lov e the Supe rdry produc ts as

well as the “thea tre an d pe rsona lity” of the stores in which the y are so ld. Thes e ou tco mes are impo rtan t

give n the co mpany ’s inten tion of prov iding cus tomers with “pe rsona lize d shopp ing expe rience s tha t

enhanc e the bran d rathe r tha n jus t se lling clothes .”

As no ted above , prob lems hav e affec ted the firm’s pe rformance . W ha t the firm wan ts to do , of cou rse ,

is co rrec t the prob lems be fore the Supe rdry bran d is da maged . Manage men t turmoil is on e of the firm’s

prob lems. In Janua ry of 2015 , the CEO ab rup tly left. Almos t simultaneous ly, the CFO was suspende d

for fili ng for pe rsona l bank rup tcy, an d the Chief Ope rating Office r left to exp lore othe r op tions . So me

ana lys ts be liev e tha t the firm’s growth ha d bee n ill-conce ived , signa ling the poss ibilit y of ine ffec tive

strateg ic dec ision s on the pa rt of the firm’s uppe r-leve l leade rs. As on e ana lys t sa id: “Th e issu e with

Supe rGrou p is tha t they ’ve expande d too qu ick ly, withou t the suppo rting infras truc ture.”

Efforts are no w unde rway to add res s thes e prob lems. In pa rticu lar, thos e no w lead ing Supe rGrou p

inten d to be tter con trol the firm as a mean s of protec ting the va lue of its brand . A ne w CEO ha s bee n

appo inted who be lieve s tha t “the bus ines s is ve ry muc h more in con trol” toda y tha n ha s bee n the cas e

recen tly. A well-rega rde d interim CFO ha s bee n appo inted , an d the firm’s boa rd ha s bee n

streng thene d by adde d expe rience d ind ividua ls. Comm en ting abou t thes e changes , an obse rve r sa id

tha t Supe rGrou p ha s “move d from an owne r-en trep reneu rial style of manage men t to a more

profess iona l an d expe rience d typ e of manage men t. Th e ke y thing is, it is muc h be tter no w tha n it was .”

Direc t ac tion s are also be ing take n to enhanc e the Supe rdry brand . Th e appo intmen t of Idris Elba ,

ac tor from Th e W ire, is see n as a major attempt to reign ite the brand ’s image . In fac t, Supe rGrou p say s tha t Elba ep itomize s wha t the Supe rdry bran d is— British , grounded , an d coo l. Th e think ing he re, too ,

is tha t Elba , who at the time of his se lec tion was 42 , wou ld appea l to the cus tomer who was “growing

up ” with the Supe rdry brand . Fo r thes e cus tomers, who are 25 an d olde r, Supe rGrou p is deve lop ing

Supe rdry produc ts with les s dramatic presen tation s of the brand ’s well-kno wn large logos . Add itiona l

line s of clothing , for sk iing an d rugb y for exa mple, are be ing deve lope d for the more mature Supe rdry

cus tomer. After co rrec ting the recen tly encoun tered prob lems, Supe rGrou p intend s to expan d into

add itiona l marke ts, inc lud ing China . In eve ry ins tanc e though , the firm will protec t the bran d whe n

en tering ne w co mpe titi ve arena s an d will rely on it as the founda tion for intende d success .

Sou rces : Abou t Supe rGroup , 2015 , Supe rGroupPL C.co m, ww w.supe rgroup .co .uk, Ap ril 5; S.

Chaudhu ri, 2015 , Supe rdry bran d works to iron ou t prob lems, W all Stree t Jou rna l Online ,

ww w.wsj.co m, Ap ril 15 ; S. Chaudhu ri, 2015 , Supe rdry look s to U.S. to drive growth, W all Stree t Jou rna l

Online , ww w.wsj.co m, March 26 ; H. Mann , 2015 , Supe rGrou p strateg y ooze s Hollywoo d glamou r,

Interac tive Inves tor, ww w.iii. co .uk , March 26 ; A. Monagha n & S. Bu tler, 2015 , Supe rdry sign s up Idris

Elba , Th e Gua rdian Online , ww w.thegua rdian .co m, March 26 ; A. Pe troff, 2015 , Is this the worst CFO

eve r? CNNM one y, ww w.mone y.cnn .co m, Feb rua ry 25 .

Cas e Discuss ion Ques tion s

1. W ha t influence s from the ex terna l env iron men t ove r the nex t seve ral yea rs do

yo u think migh t affec t Supe rDry’s ab ilit y to co mpe te?

2. Doe s Supe rdry hav e on e or more capab iliti es tha t are va luab le, rare, cos tly to

imitate, an d nonsubs titutab le? If so , wha t are they ? If no t, on which criteria do

the y fall sho rt?

3. W ill the ac tion s tha t Supe rdry is tak ing so lve its prob lems? W hy or why no t?

4. W ha t va lue doe s Supe rdry crea te for its cus tomers?

5. W ha t action s wou ld yo u reco mm en d the manage men t of Supe rdry tak e to

reso lve its prob lems an d turn aroun d the pe rformanc e of the firm?

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