Clayton Industries: Peter Arnell, Country Manager for Italy
Clayton Industries Inc. was founded in 1938 in Milwaukee and became very successful in the United States manufacturing room air conditioners. The company built a strong position in Europe by acquiring four different companies in that continent. The operations between the US and Europe had been separated to better manage its expansion. Since 2001, Simone Buis is the President of Clayton Europe and she made increasing operational efficiency her priority. During the next seven years, Europe became the major growth engine for Clayton and increased the company’s global revenue from 33% to 45%. As a result of the economic crisis, the CEO stepped aside in favor of Dan Briggs in 2009. Dan Briggs’s priorities were reducing capital use and controlling costs. The 2009 crisis triggered strategic adjustments and management changes in the US and European operations. The CEO wants the company to be positioning for a post-recession expansion. So, Peter Arnell, promoted from the British subsidiary, Clayton Ltd, was declared country manager of Clayton SpA, the Italian subsidiary of US-based Clayton Industries. D. Briggs and S. Buis expected Arnell to position Clayton SpA for future growth. European countries have different needs and national brand preferences and Clayton’s slow market penetration reflects it. P. Arnell took the position knowing that the operation in Italy was in a hard situation and he was immediately confronted with opposition from union officials. The union suggested shortened shifts for the company’s members. Arnell took the initiative to meet with the bank to postpone large payments due on the company’s credit line to buy Clayton SpA some time while he continued to assess the situation. As a result, chillers accounted for 55% of Italy’s revenues, but it lagged behind commercial customers who favored Asian products. Clayton SpA had failed to develop a broader marketing...
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