The phrase was a bit too reminiscent of Browett’s former world of management consultancy for some seasoned retail hands, who prefer more down-to-earth language.But Browett was absolutely right to highlight the necessity of a deep cultural shift at DSGi if it is to replicate past successes in today’s changed retail world.
Browett’s point is that DSGi failed to keep up with consumers. While shoppers became ever more bamboozled by new technology and placed a greater premium on advice and service, DSGi remained fixated on price and product.
Former chief executive John Clare did try to shift priorities by changing store staff’s bonus schemes to get away from the hard-sell techniques that dogged DSGi’s reputation. But Clare was dyed-in-the-wool, old-school Dixons and DSGi’s culture did not change sufficiently.
So now it falls to Browett to forge a new spirit at the retailer. One of his problems is, vital though this may be, it is intangible – it will take time to become evident and, until it does, it will matter not a jot to analysts, who focus on hard facts as they ponder forecasts and valuations.
It is a vital ambition nevertheless because, no matter how difficult it might be to value a business culture, very few companies succeed without a distinct sense of shared enterprise. Dixons, as created by Lord Kalms, was a perfect example, as is Charles Dunstone’s Carphone Warehouse.
Such issues matter all the more as past master of customer focus Best Buy prepares for its European launch in partnership with Carphone Warehouse. To Browett, Best Buy’s decision reaffirms the fact that a place remains for specialist electricals retailers. DSGi, he argues, already has the infrastructure, local scale and brand position to survive the threat.
There was plenty of retail detail in Browett’s presentation, built on shopkeeping essentials such as easier-to-shop stores, better ranges and group efficiencies. But it’s conceivable that, in the end, business culture will play a key role in propelling either DSGi or Best Buy to pre-eminence.
A company’s culture may be difficult to value – and many investors will avoid DSGi until there is concrete evidence of revival – but is invaluable to success.
Read George’s The Retail Week column today at Retail-Week.com
No comments yet