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credit: Henrik Madsen
credit: Henrik Madsen

Weathering the storms of unpredictable trading environments           

Advisory firms promote, that to survive, you must act now! And Henrik Madsen, CEO of HMJ International, fully agrees. His opinion: It is pertinent to begin a ‘smart review’ of your business.

If you own a branded retail business, whatever sector or category you specialise in, and you have read the papers, watched the news, reviewed recent consumer confidence statistics, or simply just watched the trends and KPI’s of your revenue, cashflow and operating profit (hopefully you did not just bank on the digital channel being the single channel to drive performance), you could be excused for feeling dizzy, dazed, confused and somewhat worried! Well, there is still hope!

Roadmap to success

The big question is: how do you weather a storm in very unpredictable trading environments? AND YES, PLEASE do remember it is a ‘storm’ and it will blow over! 

Advisory firms promote, that to survive, you must act NOW! and I fully agree!  It is pertinent to begin a ‘smart review’ of your business. So, take charge and consider what is right for you.

But, be careful not to embark on a full strategic review, as suggested by many advisory firms. Doing so, will not only take up a lot of management time, but it will cause additional anxiety in the organisation; and a cumbersome approach could easily delay implementation of the all-important modifications to your organisation. Not delivering the required changes, at pace, could have a negative impact on the short to medium term results and it will impact future growth.

Do your Homework

In my opinion, at this particular point in time, strategy is for amateurs, and it could be time wasted; whereas operations are for the experts and practitioners. Start any process by making sure you do ‘essential’ homework before changes are communicated and implemented. By operations, I mean End to End operation!

Here is where I would begin:

  • start by reminding yourself of ‘what IT is’ (your proposition) and ‘what does IT do’!
  • Define your customer – Reiterate to yourself, and everyone around you, who your customer really is and NOT who you want them to be.    
  • (re)define your core competencies – Prompt yourself to think back to your original core competency – those commodities were your reasons to exist – and probably still are the category killers that will continue to bring you success.

Reignite these ideas and stay focused! Spend time, effort and allocate appropriate funds to re-enforce those – the core competencies.  Note that right now customer centric agnosticity is the new reality buzz word! so you will need to be even more convincing in everything you do.

  • Secondly appraise your organisation. Apply a common-sense approach to a review process – focus on how to make the organisation operate smarter and more effectively; And think about your organisation as a horizontal organisation.
  • Creating demand, desire and devotion for your product, through your organisation, promote far better reasons for engagement and for survival than cutting 15-20% of your current cost base.
  • Be the leading light that spearhead any process on change, be excited, be inclusive and be engaging; but do stay pragmatic, agile and remain clear-headed about what must remain, what needs to change, and what could be discontinued.

If you have a desired brand with a distinctive product proposition, stay strong and believe it! Be precise and convincing in the delivery across every discipline in the organisation; from design and earth friendly supply/sourcing through your channel conversion (another new important KPI buzz word) and in the customer engagement.

The purpose of all this, is to grow your market share through ‘the sharper the focus the wider the reach’ concept.    

Do not just be as Good as you can be. Be Better – Better than anyone else!

<strong>Henrik Madsen</strong>
Henrik Madsen

Henrik Madsen is the Founder and CEO of HMJ International and member of the ACROSS Advisory Board. Madsen has 25 years of experience leading and transforming international retail brands. He has held many senior executive positions at luxury and premium multichannel brands, such as Miu Mio, Anne Klein New York, French Connection, and Kenneth Cole. He has most recently held positions across Europe as Regional CEO and Managing Director with the McArthurGlen Group, playing an integral role in the transformation of the group’s asset value. Henrik Madsen is experienced in managing the ambitions of investors as well as brand partners and understands the tension that exists between strategic investment and value creation. Madsen currently holds a number of executive board positions at international retail companies and is also a patron of the British Fashion Council.