As an MBA Global Business student in Coventry university London, I am fascinated by the role played by organisational culture in an organisation. In this blog, I will answer the question Can cultures be managed within Superdry? Superdry Plc, a company which has remodeled from an entrepreneurial business to a magnificent multinational business. After a decade, the company faced a downfall due its flaw in the organisational culture. I will use the frameworks and models to support my stand that how the change in culture will have a positive impact on company’s performance. I hope to suggest a change in culture to boost more sales in their stores because the current culture does not work anymore.
What is organisational culture?
Organisational culture is the assemblage of traditional beliefs, policies, attitudes and values that compose an extensive context for the work done in an organisation. And to know if the way of work done is accepted or not accepted. “The culture of an organisation is also usually related to the personality of an individual” (Laurie J.Mullins, 2016, p.538), Culture helps to guide the employees to decide and behave positively. I prefer culture because it is the key ingredient for the success in an organisation. Group parameters (e.g. language, concepts, boundaries, ideology) and by normative criteria that provide the basis for allocating status, power, authority, rewards, punishment, friendship and respect (Schein, 1991) can define and circumscribe organisational culture. Culture determines what a group pays attention to and monitors in the external environment and how it responds to this environment. Therefore, as Bate (1994) notes, for those who take an anthropological stance, organisational culture and organisational strategy are inevitably linked and interdependent.
“A web without a spider has no strength”
Why is organisational culture important?
Organisational culture is an important asset for any organisation because it influences the performance. An organisation will perform effectively if it has a strong culture. According to Reigle culture matters in innovation, job satisfaction, organisational success, technology implementation,, team performance and mergers. Culture is what stands behind and guide behaviour rather than the behaviour as such (Bate 1994; Geertz 1973).
In 2003, Julian Dunkerton joined hands with James Holder to set up Superdry Plc. Since then the company grew its presence and popularity both inside UK and overseas. Superdry produces premium branded apparel to the global marketplace. They sustain in business by being responsive to the market trends and demands. Combination of market-leading quality and design delivered at an affordable price is core to the brand DNA. Superdry is a genuine British success story.
Partnering with regional retailers to globalise
Superdry leads by signing distribution agreement with various mega retailer of luxury brands across the world. These retailers are strong in their regional trade. Hence this is the most important strategy for Superdry to globalise their brand and sell its products efficiently. For example, Superdry partnering with Reliance retail brands in India and Demsa in turkey. And in the southeast Asia with F J Benjamin, a company which holds an impeccable track record in building brands in Asia. (SuperGroup PLC, 22 July 2013). Supergroup signs a franchise agreement with Al Khayyat Investment in UAE to roll out 13 stores. (SuperGroup PLC, 14 June 2010).This strategy helped the brand to stand out from their competitors. Superdry has a wide range of products and is the most capable in the world to enter any market place.
Their products have a casual look with a sporty twist, Superdry is blending the classic American style with innovative Japanese cool to make their apparels stand out. Be it with a bold polo shirt, or finish jeans and jacket combo with the fabulous graphics of a printed Superdry T-shirt.
Best-selling products of Superdry: Jackets, Coats, Hoodies and Sweatshirts.
‘We create the clothes…You create the stories’.–Superdry
Superdry adopts Power Culture, where all the strategic decisions is taken by the members of the board. This type of culture will exhibit dominance by a small group of individuals. There is less bureaucracy and rules in a Power culture. One of the advantage of Power Culture is that decisions taken at a faster pace.
Julian Dunkerton remains Superdry’s largest shareholder, with an 18.4% stake, whereas co-founder, Holder, who resigned from the business in 2016, only has 9.7% in comparison. Superdry has paid a heavy price for not looking for a change in its culture. The board has many misunderstandings with Dunkerton over strategy. According the board Dunkerton is not a good fit within the open minded collaborative culture.(Annie May Noonan,2019)
The Organisational Iceberg model
The above iceberg model displays some aspects on the top while there are also some aspects which are bottom and hidden. As most of the iceberg lies below the surface of water, it’s important that we don’t miss any covert aspects of an organisation when changing the culture. We all know what happened to the ship which ignored the iceberg.
Coming back to Superdry, a company that has strong values and high commercial success faced a downfall when Mr.Dunkerton stepped down, citing other demands at that time. Ever since the CEO stepped down, the sales at Superdry stores were pretty dry. Misguided strategy, fall in Sales, fall in Shares, Profit warnings were the consequences when the company is not paying attention to its organisational culture and values. On adopting Power culture, the company failed miserably because of boardroom fights, which not only affected the sales but also created a disruption in the organisational culture.I strongly suggest the transition of culture from Power culture to Role culture will help Superdry gain back its momentum in the marketplace.
“Problems cannot be solved with the same mindset that created them” -Albert Einstein
McKinsey’s 7S framework
Superdry 5.0 is their strategy to become a global digital brand with iconic products and category ownership, to have a relentless innovation up to 5000 designs per annum, World market opportunity by expanding the digital reach to 148 countries, Operational excellence through best breed of IT.
Superdry’s structure completely relies on the board of members. It consists of 17 main executives. All the major policy and strategic decisions are the responsibilities of executive committee.
Superdry sells premium branded apparels at affordable prices. Its products have impeccable quality with best finishing. Sustainability is their one of the brand values they do it by protecting our planet by using resources sustainably.Supedry’s brand positioning is centered on producing finest clothing. Now they added lifestyle categories such as Sport and Snow to the existing range.
Superdry’s CEO Mr.Julian Dunkerton leadership style is Autocratic style. ‘Do as I say’ is a proper phrase to define Autocratic style. By following this style, he damaged the organisational culture by having many misunderstandings and boardroom battles.
Sharing work attitude and principles leads to stronger social connections at work. Superdry employees experience this fellowship and stay loyal to the company.
Having a diverse employees population of 4650 across 16 different countries. Superdry’s employees are connected in online network irrespective of their location so they feel part of the Superdry family.
Superdry hires people who are compatible to their cultural fit. They equipped with excellent communication skills and customer service skills.
Strong organisational culture is required for an organisation to be a success. Adopting the right culture is the most significant step to a leader. Choosing an incorrect culture will affect the whole organisation by hindering its growth. In Superdry, cultures can be managed by adopting Role culture. Because this culture is seen as a Greek Temple and it works by leaders and employees being rational and logical. Role culture is truly considerable along the lines of making people work jointly so that together the strength will grow and so will the organisation.
Laurie J. Mullins. (2016), Management and Organisational Behavior (11th edition). Pearson.
Superdry careers. Culture & Values. https://careers.superdry.com/about-us/culture-and-values#
Alvesson, M. and Sveningsson, S. (2008). Changing Organizational Culture: Cultural change work in progress. London: Routledge.
Superdry. [Product images] Superdry Plc. https://www.superdry.com/
Torben Rick. (2015). [Image of iceberg] Meliorate. https://www.torbenrick.eu/blog/change-management/iceberg-that-sinks-organizational-change/
Kishau Rogers. (2017) The Iceberg model for Problem solving. https://bigthinking.io/the-iceberg-model-for-problem-solving/
Batuhan Kocaoglu. (2019) McKinseys 7S Framework [Image oh McKinseys 7S model] https://www.researchgate.net/figure/McKinseys-7S-Hard-and-Soft-Strategies-Ravanfar-Analyzing-Organizational-Structure_fig1_334901504
Annie May Noonan. (2019) What happens when a founder can’t le go? https://realbusiness.co.uk/julian-dunkerton-superdry-what-entrepreneurs-can-learn/
Organisational Behavior Notes. Oragnisational behavior https://www.myorganisationalbehaviour.com/role-culture/
Jasper Jolly. (2018, 22 December) Co-founder takes swipe at Superdry business model. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/dec/10/co-founder-takes-a-swipe-at-superdry-business-model-julian-dunkerton
BBC. (2019 12 March) What went wrong with Superdry? https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-47524589
McCalman, J. and Potter, D. (2015). Leading Cultural Change: the theory and practice of successful organizational transformation. London: Kogan Page.
Essays, UK. (November 2018). Organisational Culture. Retrieved from https://businessteacher.org/lectures/hrm/cultural-management/lecture.php?vref=1
Superdry careers. (2017, 23 May) Night is on [Video] YouTube https://youtu.be/TgSNmymk2oc