Case Study: Rebranding an Established Retail Enterprise


A large retail chain was losing its market share. New store openings were not successful and the company was experiencing declines in same store sales. The company wanted to find a way to compete that wasn’t based primarily on price, and brought Dorrier Underwood in to assist them with their reinvention efforts.

  • Cynicism, blame, and victimization were common.
  • Sales were flat and there was stiff price competition.
  • The company's brand had no clearly defined niche.
  • The autocratic culture had people waiting to be told what to do.
  • Managers lacked ownership of the company’s future.
  • Employees lacked enthusiasm for their roles in the company.

Given the company’s need to change its entire culture in order to become a new brand and deliver a new experience for its associates and customers, Dorrier Underwood began with the senior management team. This work eliminated historic barriers and created a new organization at the top based on trust, respect, and commitment to shared goals.

Dorrier Underwood expanded its work to the Retail Operations leadership, including the Vice President, Regional Directors, Field Specialists, and Store Managers of the company. We took this group through several transformational leadership programs. Rather than training people in what to do, we developed them to offer suggestions, make contributions, and think of what to do on their own. We developed associates in supervisory roles to encourage and request suggestions and contributions, to value the associates’ input, and to respond to them in an appreciative manner, regardless of whether or not they agreed.

Store Managers and others shifted from seeing themselves as victims of the senior leaders to being partners and collaborators with them. Store Managers saw themselves as owners who claimed responsibility for their sales, profits, and employee morale. They quickly began mentoring others in being responsible for their team’s breakthrough results as well as their own.

Managers redefined their relationships with their employees, pledged to discontinue conversations of blame and resignation, and created projects for reinventing themselves, their stores, and their leadership inside the new brand. One manager created a project of knowing the names of his more than 180 employees and what was important to them about their jobs. Employees began to take pride in their work, and store managers acknowledged their own mentors, sharing about the difference they’d made in their lives. As ownership of results increased, executives used the training to groom managers for senior leadership.

To facilitate the reinvention of the entire company, Dorrier Underwood was asked to provide additional services: executive consulting with other Directors and Vice Presidents, as well as transformational coaching and courses in commitment-based communication throughout the organization. Other departments that received coaching to enhance their leadership effectiveness included:

  • HR leaders and Personnel Specialists
  • Financial services
  • Management Information Systems
  • Merchandising Vice Presidents and Directors
  • Training, Development, and Recruiting Staff
  • Distribution and Warehouse Staff
  • The company’s culture was transformed to support new stores, new merchandise, new relationships with employees and customers, and a new image.
  • Store managers became effective at implementing the strategic vision.
  • Participants in the Transformational Leadership Program were promoted from within to the ranks of Director and Vice President.
  • New stores were highly successful, and same store sales were some of the best in the industry.
  • Surveys and market research reported a significant improvement in customer loyalty.
  • Internal surveys demonstrated a marked improvement in employee morale, commitment, and sense of belonging.
  • Warehouse employees voted to dissociate from the Union.
  • Projected profits were surpassed, and the company sustained a steady increase in sales and net income.

According to one of the executives, “For the first time, operations, merchandising, and distribution were all working together rather than in their silos. You saw people being collaborative, loving their customers, loving their relationships, and supporting each other. In Merchandising and Operations we acted as a united team and partnered in creating new approaches to drive sales and profitability."

“None of our branding efforts would have succeeded without Dorrier Underwood’s work on transforming our leaders and our associates throughout the organization.”
Executive Manager,
National Retail Corporation
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