Are You Prepared? Or Que Sera, Sera!

Consultants Corner News Consulting Manufacturing Clothing

 By:  Bruce S. Berton

With the consolidation of Kmart/sears, Federated/may Co., Jones New York/barney's, the possibility of Tommy Hilfiger being purchased by Wal-Mart, and the many other buyouts in the manufacturing retail arena, are you prepared? With the consolidation of factors, the banking industry and the insurance industry, all integral parts of our business, are you prepared?

I recently saw an advertisement for a Big Name Mergers & Acquisition Summit specifically for retail and apparel manufacturing to be held soon.

We are in a world of takeovers. China is trying to purchase U.S. name brands in household categories, battles and buyouts of the luxury name brands are happening in Europe, financial groups are buying large retail chains. Are you prepared?

In the business world (including worldwide), relationships are important keys to doing business.  Where do you stand with all the changes that are constantly taking place, and are you prepared for changes in relationships?

Many, many years ago, the Buyer was King, and that was where the relationship was maintained. Today, the retailer is King, and the relationships are not with the buyers. Paramount is the philosophy of the retailer and understanding what it takes from top to bottom, being able to service their needs and still maintain a profit for your business.

Now with these consolidations, the old tried and true relationships, in most cases, are no longer in place. You are dealing with people you never knew existed, or you were a huge vendor with a store group and now it has been merged under a completely different name and management. Are you prepared?

In the service arena, referral business is done by networking in the hopes of getting new clients. Therefore, we are constantly selling face to face, one on one, as to who we are and what services we have to offer potential clients.

In the manufacturing/retail area it may be that you have established a recognized name brand, or you can deliver the best value of product, or you are fashion right on. This is all well and good, and in most cases you have built a sales and marketing infrastructure to bring your product to the marketplace.

In servicing these new merged giants, you must add an important ingredient to your existing marketing structure, and that is you, the CEO or owner of the business. I don't care whether you are the back office financial guy or the sales/marketing part of the business, you must know first hand and not through your sales representatives exactly what your customer wants and needs, and how you can build a new relationship with the new powers in charge.

It is important that you establish these one-on-one (networking) direct contacts.  Your sales organization will do the day-to-day servicing, put you should get out of your office and go with your sales representatives to meet these important new retailers. We all know that the competition is vicious and you must have competitive cost, quality specifications, and on-time delivery.

You now have to be the executive bridge directly to your retail customers almost on a daily basis. You are the business, and it should be known and understood that you can make decisions to enhance the relationship and respond to special requests.  Meeting with and maintaining a first-name relationship with the new powers will be a key method to be prepared.

The Que Sera, Sera! attitude will just put you behind the eight ball, and this can be a very costly situation.

The professionals at Stonefield Josephson have been working with mergers and acquisitions as part of our client services for many years. We are in it as a normal course of our business.

We have over 100 years of experience in the textile/apparel business, and we can assist you in being prepared.

Bruce S. Berton is a business and management consultant with Stonefield Josephson, Inc., a leading regional consulting and accounting firm with offices in Santa Monica, San Francisco, Walnut Creek and Mexico City. The information in this column is of a general nature.  Readers inquiries are welcome; and may be sent to Bruce Berton, at Stonefield Josephson, Inc., 2049 Century Park East Suite 400 Los Angeles, California 90067 310-432-7437 Direct
866-225-4511 Toll Free
310-432-7519 Fax Los Angeles
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