A Four Seasons' Case Study: The Ultimate Test for Isadore Sharp's Recession

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In early May 2009, Isadore Sharp released a much awaited book about his business brainchild. The founder and CEO of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, a company he spent nearly five decades building out of a motor lodge in Toronto, Sharp shares the secrets to his astounding rise in the most unpredictable of industries.

‘Four Seasons: the Story of a Business Philosophy’ ends as the company and the lodging industry enter a crucial period of existence, with the dawn of an unprecedented economic downturn on a global scale. Having given numerous interviews on creating one of the most recognised and respectable brands in the industry, Sharp now has to answer questions on the feasibility of the company’s business model in the current economic situation.

Four Seasons has been through a number of recessions in the past, having survived and even prospered on two instances, most significantly during the slump post-9/11. However, Sharp acknowledges that the extent of the latest slump is the most extreme, and definitely worth worrying. He has done a reasonable job in keeping promises of not cutting down on hotel amenities, reducing services, or laying off members of staff at any of its properties. But the company has had to cut back almost 10% of its 400 odd employees at the Toronto headquarters. A further reduction was carried out at one of its premier hotels when a total of 323 employees at the Four Seasons Park Lane, London were made redundant prior to the hotel’s closure for an 18 month refurbishment, starting September 2008. Nonetheless, in true Four Seasons style, a third of the employees were absorbed in other hotels in the group, and for the rest the company organised a massively successful job fair which had 52 employers attending and recruiting.

Consequently, such measures have resulted in minimal reductions in its famously high prices, at a time when the rest of the industry is competing on slashing prices to stay in business. According to Sharp, ‘exceptional



Bibliography: Dostoevsky, F. (1869). The Idiot. Heron Books Dostoevsky, F Sharp, I. (2009) Four Seasons: The Story of a Business Philosophy. Portfolio Caterer Search (July, 2009) Four Seasons lays off staff for London refit Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts (August, 2009) Press Releases. [Online]. 2009. Available from: http://press.fourseasons.com/2009-news-releases [Accessed: 12th March 2010] Huffington Post (April, 2009) Free vs

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