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Laura Ashley Holdings plc is a United Kingdom based corporation primarily occupied in the trade of house furnishings and fashion. It focuses on the devise, produce, supply and sale of home furnishings, accessories, as well as clothing. Due to its growth, it runs over 231 shopping stores in the UK alone in four key formats, namely, clearance outlets, home concession stores, home stores, and mixed product stores. The purpose of this study is to discuss and demonstrate the strategic development behind the Laura Ashley’s corporation and how their strategic policies have led to the recent operations difficulties. It’s also aimed and proposing possible recommendations which when applied would ensure that the company thrives to full potential (History of Laura Ashley Holdings Plc., n.d.).
Factors Contributing To Laura Success
Laura Ashley Corporation made a remarkable success since 1960s to around 1985 where it was bringing in large amounts of profits. There we numerous factors which contributed to the success of the company including for it being an effectual competitor in the market together with satisfying stakeholder requirements. Coupled with these factors the company operated under a high superiority production, incorporating innovative designs, having a good product management where the brand name ‘Laura Ashley’ was and in fact is still strong (Porter, 1980).
The corporation also had well placed stores, created good operation atmospheres in all their stores, had competencies in creativity and design, personnel training, establishment of a upright integrated operation and structure inside a basic organizational arrangement in general. Moreover, the Group’s IT potentialities factored into the achievement as it formed a foundation of competitive benefits for instance the company were the early adopters of the electronic position of sale. All these factors form strategic excellence positions (SEP’s) and they formed the capabilities which enabled the Laura Ashley’s corporation to generate quite better results in terms of profits and customer satisfaction (De and Meyer, 1994).
After the corporation undergoing massive losses in the late 1980s, criticism evolved which made the management being changed and a new CEO came into power where he introduced new strategies to revive it. He embarked on a plan to carry out cutbacks, realignment, as well as reorganization of the whole company. The strengths of the brand was much focused on where creation of fashionable designs in furnishing and clothing as well as incorporating grass root management to ensure that all policies were observed to the latter. Several operation within the company were contracted for instance, distribution and also manufacturing operations which saw it partner with Federal Express with the aim of reducing costly inventories and recover stock movement. The quantity of personnel was cut immensely and all managers were expectant to take on a more hands on business approach in the retailing operations (BBC News, 2002).
Laura Ashley Strategic Problems
The company has undergone numerous challenges, threats and weaknesses over their operation period which has actually in some occasions threatened to close up the business. In 1985 the costs of manufacturing rose rapidly thus bringing a much weakness to the production operations of the company. High overheads and heavy borrowing in early 1990s also posed a threat. Lack of standard systems in shop operations as well as the fragmented nature of the management structure formed a severe weakness. Unable leadership, continuous costly restructuring, poor research of the markets, and lacking corporate strategy threw the company into more operational difficulties (Gibbs, 2009).
Moreover, the corporation was faced by other threats for instance the fluctuations which rocked the economy in 1980s had really a hard knock-on consequence on the trade of material goods and property and consequently affecting the vending of domestic furnishings. In addition, forced discounting, wastage, and high borrowing meant that, regardless of sales raise, stores were still making a big loss. The continuous reorganizations which occurred in 1988, 1991 and then twice in 1995 affected negatively on the overall performance of the corporation as these activities were expensive and highlighted incompetence (Company Profile, 2012).
Solutions to the Problems
For the company to grow back to its former state of capturing large market share as well as operating in a profit environment, several strategies had to be enacted where for instance undertaking massive reorganization, establishment of an international operations management and also worldwide collection development to assist in marketing and globalization. Massive support aimed at empowering the whole staff as well as forming associations with logistics companies to advance distribution and delivery systems. Extensive sourcing of close to half of the products to the Far East and the replacement of management in the U.S is also necessary (Lawson, 2012).
Much remodeling in terms of new strategies needed to be implemented to boost up the overall growth of the company by beefing up a product licensing plan in residence furnishings. Restructuring of the product together with its price range need to be done as well as also carrying out a research on consumer expectations. Supply chains had to be increased and massive brand advertisement which would lure customers purchase the product. Hiring of outside consortium companies to help in rediscovering the company’s distinctiveness would as well bring major positive changes.
Big corporations undergo numerous challenges which range from threats in te market, as well as weaknesses within the company and how these issues are handles determines the future of the company. The Laura Ashley corporation has really experienced hard times ranging from economic recessions to regular restructuring of the management which has massively affected the company negatively but with the implementation of new strategies to venture in the already overcrowded market has succeeded to a greater length through improving their global distribution structure and also enhancing customer service in their stores globally (History of Laura Ashley Holdings plc – FundingUniverse, n.d.).
Strategic management is quite an extensive and important aspect in each and every business and should be put in place for it so as to achieve success. Moreover, exploring the business environment together with gathering information necessary to assess the company’s growth is of importance and this is majorly attained through carrying out a SWOT analysis thoroughly and with it the company can commence in dealing with the threats and weaknesses found so as to assure full potential of the whole company is achieved.