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1 The Burton Group Ralph Halpern 1976 – 1990 2 1976 - 1981 n Halpern joins the Burton Group under Cyril Spencer. n Focused on Men and Women fashion retailing,

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Presentation on theme: "1 The Burton Group Ralph Halpern 1976 – 1990 2 1976 - 1981 n Halpern joins the Burton Group under Cyril Spencer. n Focused on Men and Women fashion retailing,"— Presentation transcript:

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2 1 The Burton Group Ralph Halpern 1976 – 1990

3 n Halpern joins the Burton Group under Cyril Spencer. n Focused on Men and Women fashion retailing, other divisions scaled down. n All shops refurbished with modern fittings. n 1979 – all retail divisions profitable again, and board re-organised with Halpern as joint M.D. n 1980 saw emphasis on retail chains, others sold. n 1981 – Spencer asked to stand down and Halpern appointed chairman and chief executive of Burtons.

4 3 Halpern’s Strategy. n “centralises major policy decisions on top team, making decisions explicit and then delegating implementation to each division.” n Believed in: Following change Following change Risk taking Risk taking Controlling certain areas Controlling certain areas High incentives for success High incentives for success Demanding targets Demanding targets Open managerial structure Open managerial structure Built in competition Built in competition

5 4 Organisation Structure Chairman (Halpern) Main Board of M.D’s Shop Operations Merchandising ConcessionsFinance Personnel Systems

6 5 Strategy Results n 1983 n Sales up to £300 million n Pre-tax profits to £39 million n Capital Employment returns = 16% after £29 million spent on store openings and 79 refurbishments.

7 6 Next move…. n To take share from market dominators, eg. M&S. n For this needed larger financial resources. n Increased share capital from £55m to £125m. n Reduced family and directors share to only 8%.

8 7 Assess the underlying logic of this Strategy

9 8 Changed Organisational Structure Good n Competent and experienced managers handled major policy decisions n Open System allowed more accurate and efficient information flow n More competitive atmosphere n Tighter controls in areas that mattered n Balance between control and flexibility Bad n Aggressive atmosphere n Competition among senior managers n Despite flexibility, control maintained

10 9 Philosophy/Culture of Organisation Altered Strengths n Keep up with trends n Draw and keep customers n Be ahead of competition n Portray trendy and dynamic image Weaknesses n Risk increased n Greater costs involved

11 10 Diversification Opportunities n Increased market share and customer base n Reduced risk Threats n Dilution of resources to each store n High risk

12 11 Financial Rewards, Incentives and Demanding Targets Pros n Entire organisation motivated n Top management further motivated n Could not be content, encouraged to improve and advance Cons n Not all employees motivated by financial means n Increased competition bad if it results in reduced corporation

13 12 Background - Before the Acquisition –Halpern - 4 years in charge –Company Foundation in place –Profitable –Good Products Department Store Retail – Department Store Retail 68 buildings – 68 buildings –£300m of debt Company Status (1985) Debenhams Acquisition

14 13 Did Debenhams Acquisition Make Sense n Arguments for Yes –Increase in Market Share –Expansion and Diversification –Change and Flexibility –Experienced Management Team –Good financial Status –Debenhams Infrastructure –Good Deal n Arguments for NO –Managerial System –Centralisation of decisions –Company Specialist Theme –Huge Task and Costs –Company Cultural Differences Conclusions

15 14 The Decline of the Burton Group:

16 15 Background In 1986 profits were £146 million. In 1986 profits were £146 million. Chairman and CEO Ralph Halpern was, by 1986, seen as one of the leading figures in British business, and received a knighthood. Chairman and CEO Ralph Halpern was, by 1986, seen as one of the leading figures in British business, and received a knighthood. By 1988 there was still both profit and growth. By 1988 there was still both profit and growth.

17 16 However… By 1990 debt stood at 125 percent of shareholder funds. By 1990 debt stood at 125 percent of shareholder funds. Expected profit figures for 1990 were £150 million - poor compared to the 1989 figure of £223 million. Expected profit figures for 1990 were £150 million - poor compared to the 1989 figure of £223 million. Burton Group Financial Services was sold in the face of mounting debt and falling profits, while attempts were made to get rid of the property division. Burton Group Financial Services was sold in the face of mounting debt and falling profits, while attempts were made to get rid of the property division.

18 17 What were the causes of this decline?

19 18 Causes of Decline: The Economic Climate n 1. Slump in the Property Sector n Burton Group, like many other businesses had moved into property development. The property slump therefore made a negative impact on profits, which in 1989 grew by just 5.7 percent. n Property development had begun to reduce by March 1990, again damaging finances, while the withdrawl from this sector cost millions.

20 19 n 2. Recession High Interest rates and high levels of unemployment damaged consumer confidence High Interest rates and high levels of unemployment damaged consumer confidence This resulted in lower levels of both spending and borrowing. This resulted in lower levels of both spending and borrowing. The debt which the group found itself in by 1990 was largely a result of the recession- running costs had become higher than rental income. The cost of opening shopping centres also had to be shouldered by the group. The debt which the group found itself in by 1990 was largely a result of the recession- running costs had become higher than rental income. The cost of opening shopping centres also had to be shouldered by the group. The unexpected depth of the recession effected even versatile markets within the retail sector. The unexpected depth of the recession effected even versatile markets within the retail sector.

21 20 City Concerns and Bad Public Relations The city felt that there was not enough information being made availiable about the performance of different parts of the group. This generated uncertainty and worry. The city felt that there was not enough information being made availiable about the performance of different parts of the group. This generated uncertainty and worry. Executives were seen as overly defensive. Executives were seen as overly defensive. The rising trend of gearing within the group also worried the city, although this was respectable at 47 percent. The rising trend of gearing within the group also worried the city, although this was respectable at 47 percent.

22 21 Adverse Media Attention The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) investigation into the takeover of Debenhams hung over the company, damaging its image. It also distracted much of the management from January 1988 to May The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) investigation into the takeover of Debenhams hung over the company, damaging its image. It also distracted much of the management from January 1988 to May There were attacks on Halpern’s share option scheme, and his dual role of Chairman and CEO There were attacks on Halpern’s share option scheme, and his dual role of Chairman and CEO Halpern was also attacked personally: ‘Burton in Bimbo Limbo’ (Daily Telegraph). Halpern was also attacked personally: ‘Burton in Bimbo Limbo’ (Daily Telegraph). This bad press damaged the reputation, credibility and image of the Burton Group. This bad press damaged the reputation, credibility and image of the Burton Group.

23 22 Some Context… Despite the decline of the group from 1988 to 1990, profits for 1990 were still £133 million, better than many forecasts. Despite the decline of the group from 1988 to 1990, profits for 1990 were still £133 million, better than many forecasts. Halpern and his management team had succeeded in dramatically altering the business for the better, and were largely responsible for the significant successes of the 1980’s. Halpern and his management team had succeeded in dramatically altering the business for the better, and were largely responsible for the significant successes of the 1980’s.


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