Over my years working in the retail sector, when a chain announces a formal restructuring, industry players all agree that “Yeah, we saw that one coming”. Right now we have two notable Canadian retailers at different stages of restructuring.
Danier Leather: Re-emerged from bankruptcy protection as “Danier” with new merchandise, less leather and less cluttered stores.
Golf Town: has just begun its restructuring — what will emerge is still to be determined, but it will likely be a smaller chain.
Both of these restructurings were relatively easy to predict. Leather apparel is cyclical, and has been declining for years meanwhile golf’s exuberant expansion in the 1990’s has dissipated.
Can Restructuring be Avoided?
There are other struggling retailers out there – you read about them every week in the news. So if you’re one of these retailers, what can you do re-invigorate the brand? The questions you will ask will fall into the categories of strategy, operations and technology.
- If we had to launch our retail concept today, would it look like what we already have? Why? Why not?
- Is our core market stable, shrinking or growing?
- How are we going to grow? Selling more things to our customers? Stealing share from others? Attracting different customer segments?
- Do we do things just because “that’s the way we’ve always done them”? What if we stopped doing them?
- Are we as efficient as we can be? What can we do to reduce the number of times somebody touches the product, massages the report or provides input to a decision?
- Do we have the right people? Are we sufficiently motivating and training them for success?
Technology is often the enabler of strategic and operational initiatives. Take a look at your technology – is it aligned to future business and customer needs or is it legacy investment that reflects a different era?
- Can you customize offers and experiences to your customers over mobile devices?
- Do staff work with offline, large Excel-based files because they don’t trust your systems?
- Do you spend more time creating reports than analyzing them?
- Is your data accessible 24/7 on multiple devices?
The answers to these questions will result in investments, sometimes with significant price tags attached. However, consider this: what is the cost of not investing, not knowing the customer well enough and not being as efficient or fast to market as competitors?