Read the following case study.
Debenhams plc is a British multinational retailer operating under a department store format in the United Kingdom and Ireland with franchise stores in other countries. The company was founded in the eighteenth century as a single store in London and has now grown to 178 locations across the UK, Ireland and Denmark. It sells a range of clothing, household items and furniture and has been known since 1993 for its ‘Designers at Debenhams’ brand range.
History Of Debenhams PLC
Debenhams traces its history to 1778 when William Clark established a drapers store at 44 Wigmore Street in London’s West End selling expensive fabrics, bonnets, gloves and parasols.
In 1813 William Debenham invested in the firm which then became Clark & Debenham. The first store outside London opened in Cheltenham in 1818 and it was an exact replica of the Wigmore Street store.
In the following years the firm prospered from the Victorian fashion for family mourning by which widows and other female relatives adhered to a strict code of clothing and etiquette.
When Clement Freebody invested in the firm in 1851 it was renamed Debenham & Freebody. As well as its retail stores, a wholesale business was established selling cloth and other items to dressmakers and other large retailers.
Many acquisitions of retail, wholesale and manufacturing businesses were undertaken in the remainder of the 19th century and offices opened in South Africa, Australia, Canada and China.
Acquisitions continued into the next century and in 1905 Debenhams Ltd was incorporated. In 1919, the business merged with Marshall & Snellgrove and in 1920 purchased Knightsbridge retailer Harvey Nichols. Seven years later the involvement of the Debenham family finally ended and the business became a public company for the first time in 1928.
By 1950, Debenhams was the largest department store group in the UK, owning 84 companies and 110 stores. It continued to grow and in 1966 central buying was introduced for the first time.
1976 saw the acquisition of Brown’s of Chester, the only store which retained its original name when all others were re-branded Debenhams in 1977 (this continues to be the case today).
From 1985 to 1998, Debenhams was part of the Burton Group. During that time the business was repositioned with the introduction of exclusive merchandise most notably Designers at Debenhams, which was launched in 1993, and a significant increase in the number of stores.
In 1997 the first international franchise store opened in Bahrain.
Following de-merger from the Burton Group, Debenhams was listed on the London Stock Exchange until 2003 when it was acquired by Baroness Retail Ltd. Debenhams returned to the London Stock Exchange in May 2006.
In September 2007, the company acquired nine stores from Roches in the Republic of Ireland. In November 2009, Debenhams acquired Magasin du Nord, the leading department store chain in Denmark. (Debenhams Company Website)
In April 2017 the following article was published in Times:
“The long-awaited overhaul of Debenhams is set to lead to the closure of warehouses, shops and a distribution centre, potentially affecting more than 200 jobs.
Six months after joining Britain’s second biggest department store chain, Sergio Bucher, the former Amazon executive, said he planned to cut back on in-house brands and stock, get out of some international markets and redeploy about 2,000 staff to “customer-facing” roles.
The strategic shake-up will result in more investment in the retailer’s supply chain, mobile systems and store estate, including expanding the beauty business, one of its strengths.
Underlining the scale of the challenge, the company posted lacklustre interim results, with pre-tax profits down 6.4 per cent to £87.8 million in the six months to March 4. (The Times 21st April 2017)”
Write an essay outlining the way this change process should be managed clearly highlighting some of the challenges Debenhams PLC will face in implementing the changes proposed with clear reference to resistance to change and changing organizational culture.