As the recent closures of Comet, HMV and Jessops have shown, retailers are today facing unprecedented pressures: all bar a few are wrestling to arrest a decline in sales and margins due to internet-based competition, the unrelenting impact of the recession, the high costs of high street stores and changing consumer behaviours.
The classic response to declining sales is to acquire a competitor and/or retrench the store footprint to reduce fixed operating costs, followed by a reassessment of product range and positioning and new initiatives to boost demand.
We see these trends playing out across Europe, providing the context for a major assignment led by interim executives from Delville Management, a European Executive Interim Management provider that has recently opened its London office.
The client is a large consumer electronics and white goods retailer that, after merging with a competitor, was obliged by the monopoly trading authority to divest or close a number of stores.
The CEO called on Delville Management to manage the store closures, including internal and external communications, staff redeployment and a reorganization of the logistics network – a mission that was accomplished on time and within budget.
During the assignment, it became clear that a second phase of retrenchment would be necessary to ensure financial health, closing the least viable of the remaining 160 stores.
Delville Management responded by fielding a team of interim store managers under the leadership of Chris de Rolland, the transition manager entrusted with phase 1, to take charge of the stores under threat and to ensure an orderly closure.
This was not an inconsequential task given that many stores were located in socially troubled areas. With the mission now nearing its close, the stores have been closed "with no noise, news or nuisance" to quote the CEO and the firm is on course to meet its financial targets.
Delville Management owes its success to an ability to deploy accomplished, hands-on managers to meet almost any challenge. The firm’s ultra-selective recruitment based on cooptation and recommendation and its close knowledge of several hundred managers in the Club Delville network are key factors. Members of Club Delville may also be called on to support the manager and the client during the assignment, in addition to the support and monitoring provided by the assignment director, who is also an experienced professional in the field.
Almost 70% of the "super-temps" in Delville Management's network are mobile and multilingual, so able to operate anywhere in the EMEA region. Delville Management is well placed to meet the needs of international companies and bring in the right skills for each specific assignment across a broad spectrum of functions and in a wide range of sectors.