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 ,
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
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?