Internationalisation

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GIORDANO

Our Vision: To be the best and the biggest world brand in apparel retailing Our Mission: To make people "feel good" & "look great"

A Brief History

Giordano was founded in Hong Kong in 1980 by Jimmy Lai. In 1981 it opened its first retail store in Hong Kong and also began to expand its market by distributing Giordano merchandise in Taiwan through a joint venture. In 1985, it opened its first retail outlet in Singapore. Until 1987, it sold exclusively men's casual apparel. When it realized that an increasing number of women customers were attracted to its stores, Giordano changed its positioning and started selling unisex casual apparel (clothing). It repositioned itself as a retailer of discounted casual unisex apparel with the goal of maximizing unit sales instead of margins, and sold value-for-money merchandise. Its shift in strategy was successful, leading to a substantial increase in turnover.

Management Philosophy

The willingness to try new ways of doing things and learning from past errors was an integral part of Lai's management philosophy. The occasional failure represented a current limitation and indirectly pointed management to the right decision in the future. To demonstrate his commitment to this philosophy, Lai took the lead by being a role model for his employees: " Like in a meeting, I say, look, I have made this mistake. I'm sorry for that. I hope everybody learns from this. If I can make mistakes, who the hell do you think you are that you can't make mistakes?" He also believed strongly in empowerment: if everyone is allowed to contribute and participate, mistakes can be minimized.

Besides the willingness to accept employees' mistakes, another factor that contributed to the success of Giordano was that it had a dedicated, trained, ever-smiling sales force. It considered front-line workers to be its customer service heroes. Charles Fung, Giordano's Chief Operations Officer and Executive Director (South-East Asia), said, "Even the most sophisticated training program won't guarantee the best customer service. People are the key. They make exceptional service possible. Training is merely a skeleton of a customer service program. It's the people who deliver that give it form and meaning." Giordano had stringent selection procedures to make sure that only those candidates who matched the profile of what it looked for in its employees were selected. Selection continued into its’ training workshops. Fung called the workshops "attitude training." Giordano's philosophy of quality service could be observed in its overseas outlets as well. Its obsession with providing excellent customer service was best described by Fung. "The only way to keep abreast with stiff competition in the retail market is to know the customers' needs and serve them well. Customers pay our paychecks.”

For Giordano, investment in service meant investment in people. It paid high wages to attract and keep its staff. Giordano offered what Fung claimed was "one of the most attractive packages in an industry where employee turnover is high. We generally pay more than what the market pays." With higher wages, there was a lower staff turnover rate. The higher wages and Giordano's emphasis on training resulted in a corps of eager-to-please sales people. Managing its vital human resources (HR) became a challenge to Giordano when it decided to expand into global markets. To replicate its high service-quality positioning, Giordano needed to consider the HR issues involved in setting up retail outlets on unfamiliar ground. For example, the recruitment, selection, and training of local employees could require modifications to its formula for success in its current markets owing to differences in the culture, education, and technology of the new countries. Labour regulations could also affect HR policies such as compensation and providing welfare. Finally, expatriate policies for staff seconded to help run Giordano outside...
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