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Case Study Analysis:


'Michael Hill International: Controlled Expansion and Sustainable Growth'
Prepared by REAL ASSIGNMENT WRITING for Mahveen Khan Student of Southern
Queensland University Australia.
Email ID: naveed.qld@gmail.com

Table of Contents
1.

Introduction ........................................................................................................................................... 3

2.

Elements of Global Strategic Management in Initial Expansion into Australia ................................... 3

3.

Analysis of Michael Hill's Diversification into Shoes .......................................................................... 5

4.

Comparison and Contrast between Entry Models into Australia, Canada and the United States ......... 7

5.

Factors Included By Michael into the Feasibility Analysis to Move .................................................... 9

6.

Characteristics of Fragmented Industries and Recommendations for Competing In Such Industry .. 11

7.

Conclusion .......................................................................................................................................... 12

References ................................................................................................................................................... 14

1. Introduction
The essay presents a detailed analysis of the Michael Hill International: Controlled expansion
and sustainable growth case study by focusing on multi-dimensional aspects of global
strategic management. In this highly competitive era, no business can survive without
appreciating the global industries and markets. However, in attempting to do so, expanding
beyond the domestic boundaries and having a successful international strategic management
study is highly crucial (Fleischer & Benoussan, 2003; Grant et al., 2013; Johnson et al., 2011;
Lengen, 2012). Michael Hill, specialty retailer of jewellery in North America and Oceania
have also considered the range of such issues in order to control its expansion in Australia,
Canada and United States with aim to achieve the sustained growth. In the pursuance of the
expansion and growth aim, company had to confront with the challenges like global financial
and economic recession in 2008 along with the ambitious growth target First for the stepwise
examination of case study, elements of global strategic management taken into account by
strategic management for initial expansion into Australia are discussed (Grant et al., 2013).

2. Elements of Global Strategic Management in Initial Expansion into Australia


In Australia, MHI focused on the result-oriented strategic management aspects, the core of
which was its expansion model based on controlled, profitable growth. Michael Hill, owner
of the business reflected greater level consciousness in developing an entirely new strategic
plan for such expansion. According to him,
We have consciously kept warfare in mind when considering expansion we systematically
take one city at a time (Grant et al., 2013, p.450).

The expansion model selected by the company helped it in strategically analysing the market,
developing a sustainable strategy and implementing it effectively. Rather than going for the
maximum growth model, company opted for the ideal model, so that the growth of company
is not too slow that it is unable to cope with the other competitors in the market rather than
not too fast that it result in over extension (Heart, 2013).
It can be examined that Hills strategy of opening one or two store at a time prior to moving
in a new area resulted in the decentralised management and clustered expansion. According
to the Hills global strategic management strategy, standalone stores can operate
comparatively efficiently and in a profitable way.
On the other hand, another element of global strategic management included selection of a
strategic location or distribution interface. Company wanted to have a secured location at the
Myer Centre, which was an upscale shopping mall. In fact, an agreement to pay more prices
for the prime site was also taken into account by the strategic management of the company.
Importance of global marketing plan was also considered as an important aspect of the
companys Australian expansion. It can be examined that Michael Hills International focuses
on the television advertising heavily. Through the heavy investment on this aspect, company
was successful in developing its brand name in different parts of Australia. The approach
chosen by MHI in Australia was relatively unusual than the strategic marketing plan adopted
by other jewellers in Australian market. Most of them were reliant on the print advertising
models like catalogue and newspaper advertising. Through the differentiated marketing
element of adverting, company was successful in creating novelty value for the business. It is
noteworthy to find out that MHI, by using television advertisements advertised its valuable
products like Diamond and Sapphire Rings on highly low prices leading to the loss, however,

because of this smart tactics, company was successful in gaining a strong profile in the
Australian markets. However, this competitive advantage was not present for the MHI after
three months, when competitors replicated the television advertising and created some for
their own products (Porter et al., 2014).
Thus, these global strategy elements for Michael Hills International can be summarised as the
integration of arenas, differentiators, vehicles, staging and pacing and economic logic as
covered within the theoretical framework of the strategy diamond. The examination of all
these elements can be helpful in the examination of the Michael Hills diversification into
shoes.

3. Analysis of Michael Hill's Diversification into Shoes


In analysing critically, Michael Hills diversification into shoes, it can be analysed that
diversification in footwear industry in 1992 was also initiated by the company using the
similar qualities and strategic approach as was used for the jewellery industry. Similar lines
as the jewellery business were chosen by the business. The strategic management believed
that the present infrastructure of the business would be helpful and act as a support for the
new division (Grant et al., 2013). However, MHI did not take account of the impact of such
interdependencies between two different strategic business units. According to Prahalad &
Doz, (1998), interdependencies among the different organisational factors can result in
critical business and management costs for the business like loss of top management focus on
business, loss of flexibility, reduced innovation, high cost of coordination resulting in lower
business profitability (Prahalad & Doz, 1998). Lack of consideration given to the influence

of such interdependencies resulted in the reported loss of NZ$1.1 million in the second year
of business.
Additionally, case analysis of the Michael Hill International also stressed on the loophole in
the diversification of business activity. It can be examined that with an attempt to purchase
three high-end shoe stores in Christchurch from an established retailer John Craig NHI did
not consider following the similar line of footwear and shoes as was formally operated by
Craig i.e. expensive Italian shoes. Rather, MHI renamed and relocated the entire division by
expanding the mid-range footwear in the mass market. Additionally, prior to gaining any
experience in this context, MHI decided to open further six Michael Hill Shoes shops
throughout in the New Zealand. It can be argued here that locating the shoes stores next door
to the jewellery stores further resulted in high transaction cost of business and increased
business complexity. MHI must have focus on the level of diversification at company level
as well as business level. In the literature of Yeung, (2007), author has stressed on the
significance of managing diversification in order to stay competitive. According to them, in a
related diversified business firms, where different strategic business units are associated with
similar related line of products, a company is required to operate in a cooperative
environment while in an unrelated diversified company, it is very important for the business
to operate on the competitive organisation.
Case example of MHI also confirms the issues and challenges of diversification highlighted
by the literature. Among the number of issues highlighted by Hill, the major one was
associated with the distraction of the senior management from their key responsibilities after
the shoe diversification. They were not able to concentrate on the basic jewellery business
and suffered from the heavy opportunity loss. On the other hand, shoe business was unable to

be aligned with the existing supply chain structure of the business resulting in operational
inefficiencies (Grant et al., 2013). In contrary to the jewellery segment, MHI opened the shoe
stores very quickly across the country. In their study, Colpan et al., (2010) have also
emphasised on the fact that due to poor understanding of the diversification activities,
companies are not able to coordinate with existing business opportunities. At the first year of
diversification, MHI was aware about the fact that they need to perform a cost of entry test in
order to assess whether their decision to diversify is worthy or not. In fact, practically, MHI
diluted the strength of the jewellery brand and customer message by promoting both the
product together (Grant et al., 2013).
After gaining the lacking and strengths of the shoe diversification strategy of MHI, the next
section compares and contrasts its different entry models in order to consider their
comparative effectiveness and contribution in the overall success of the business.

4. Comparison and Contrast between Entry Models into Australia, Canada and the
United States
MHI selected different entry modes for different countries based on the market research and
feasibility of the model in supporting the institutional infrastructures and arrangements of the
business. Among the range of entry models highlighted in past studies such as export,
contractual modes (licensing, franchising and strategic alliances), and foreign direct
investment, MHI chose direct entry model for entering into Canada by establishing its stores
in the country i.e. opening subsidiaries through foreign direct investment. The similar
approach as used in Australia for initial growth was used. Through controlled growth and
clustered-based expansion, company opened two largest jewellery chain stores named as

Peoples and Mappins. This was a very small portion of investment as compared to the other
privately owned and independent business operating between 30 to 60 stores each. Moreover,
because Canadian market was highly fragmented market as compared to the other two, brand
recognition process remained slower for MHI there (Grant et al., 2013).
Similar, entry model was focused by the company in Australia, where through direct method;
company opened its profitable growth. However, the selection of Australian city for first
opening i.e. Brisbane was effective as compared to the Canada. Strategic management used
their knowledge about the New Zealand customers in targeting the 70,000 New Zealand
residents in Brisbane, who would have the familiarity with brand. In contrary, understanding
and knowledge about the tastes of the Canadian customers was not good of the company.
Selection of high cost city, Vancouver for head office and opening sales without any brand
recognition in the area, resulted in no translation of the business costs into heavy sales and
increased margins. Heavy cataloguing was offered, but enough sales were not recorded
(Wagner, 2009).
In comparison, market of United States was highly complex and competitive and MHI was
not able to enter it without any support from the existing player. The largest retailers were the
corporations managing multiple chains at different price points. In such high competitive
environment, MHI played carefully by focusing on direct expansion through acquisitions. To
compete with the strong brand names like Zale, Sterling Jewellers and Tiffany, MHI
purchased 17 shops for NZ$7 million from Whitehall Jeweller Holdings, which was one of
the largest jewellery chains in the states. The US retailer had filed its bankruptcy at that time.
It would not be wrong in stating that the attempt undertaken by NHI was a bold entry, which
was aimed to test its retail model. According to the strategic management, the reasons behind

adopting the different entry model for US were to go for an effective and profitable real
estate play. However, trailing the product at initial stage was not likely to prove as a
beneficial strategy because these acquisitions were nothing just testing (Grant et al., 2013).
The effects of this acquisition strategy were also not effective and company announced to
close its 17 stores due to impact of the global economic and financial recession 2009 on the
real jewellery sales drop, real property issues and unfavourable unemployment outlooks.
Thus, it can be examined that opening subsidiaries in Australia was successful entry model
for MHI as compared to the similar mode chosen for entering Canada. This is so because
strategic management failed to concentrate on other additional strategy elements like market
feasibility, transaction cost, infrastructural facilities and competitors analysis. The next part
of report emphasizes on the factors that might have been included by Michael Hill in the
feasibility analysis while moving overseas.

5. Factors Included By Michael into the Feasibility Analysis to Move


Based on the examination of case study, it can be stated that Michael Hill might have taken
into account the range of factors in his feasibility analysis. These might include market entry
models analysis, industry analysis as a whole, customers preferences, competitors analysis
and international environment and culture. However, all these factors were not thoroughly
focused and researched by the strategic management of the company. This can be evidenced
from the example that despite of having complete knowledge about the fragmented American
market and presence of giant retailers in the Jewellery industry of the states, MHI opted to
acquire 17 Whitehall Jeweller Holdings stores just to test its retail model. Furthermore, it can
be examined that company must consider the macro-environment analysis in-depth prior to

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enter into US market. But in the times of recession, where a large portion of medium to small
scale companies in every industry were filling for their bankruptcy in 2008, unwisely the
macro-environment factors were undermined by the strategic management of MHI. The key
reason behind such negligence was the companys approach in dealing its overseas markets
interdependently. When in 2008, despite of global recession, Australian market remained
buoyant for the MHI; company might have started assuming similar for the other overseas
region too (Fitzroy & Hulbert, 205).
However, from the case study, it was found that Michael Hill considered primarily its goal
setting and business vision in order to align it with the needs of the different overseas
markets. After it, financial arrangements were the key issue for the company and Hill
probably have taken account of the financial sources available to it along with the sources
that could be used for gathering the needed capital to expand (Johnson et al., 2011). These
areas supported him in indentifying and measuring the total amount of finance needed.
Moreover, consideration on effective strategic location and distribution centres was also a
vital factor of the business. Moreover, although company focused on the fact that they should
not overestimate or are overcommitted in offering their services to the overseas market but
the practices were quite different (Grant et al., 2013).
In the theoretical background focused in the research of Lengen, (2012, p.10), it can be
analysed that author depicted the importance of three stages in the successful industry
analysis for the business. These include:
Stage one: Assessment of alternative markets
Stage two: Evaluation of costs, benefits and risks

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Stage three: The selection of the right choice.


MHI failed in Canada and Australia because, it did not concentrate on assessment of
alternative markets and section of the right location to enter. Additionally, characteristics of
fragmented industries were also not considered by Michael Hill in the feasibility report.
Suggestions for important characteristics of fragmented markets given in the next section can
assist MHI in competing in such industry in future.

6. Characteristics of Fragmented Industries and Recommendations for Competing In


Such Industry
Theoretical literature stresses on the importance of fragmented market characteristics.
According to Sudi, (2003, p.125), fragmented industries contain a large number of very
small firms selling a single product or a small range of related products. The markets they
serve may be niche markets or geographically limited. They are often described as mom and
pop business. These businesses may be selling mature products or they may be start-up
firms. By applying the highlighted characteristics of fragmented markets on the North
American market of MHI in case study, it can be examined that there were large number of
smaller chains and independent jewellers like Tiffany & Co, JC Penney, Costa Wholesale
Group and others. The fragmentation markets were also characterised based on U.S.
distribution channels that helped the existing markets in selling their mature products through
numbers of small distribution points and earning a large profit (Grant et al., 2013).
In order to deal with such fragmented industries, it is very necessary for the investor to focus
on the development of contractual agreements and clientele with their local markets. MHI
should also go for indirect expansion and growth into North American or other highly

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fragmented markets. In addition, it would also be suggested to the company that


specialization is a key aspect of the strategy when there is large number of firms. Those
products, which can maintain strong process and are according to the exact tastes and
preferences of the changing tastes of the customers, should be given high concentration.
Another recommendation for such fragmented market can be the keeping transaction cost
down enough. To deal with competition, MHI should understand that only those companies
in such markets can survive that control their costs in relation to new competitors that will try
to gain a competitive position by under pricing the product. Therefore, in case the cost of
business is high in the fragmented market, it would be difficult for the business to cut back its
expenses later and lower the price for sustainable growth and competition as sustainability is
the key to success (Rogoff, 2007; Bonn, 2011).

7. Conclusion
Thus, the above analysis of the global strategic management case study of Michael Hills
International, it can be concluded that the management failed to cope up with its initial
successful management strategy. When company pursued its controlled expansion and
clustered growth in Australia successfully, it was imprudent to go for acquisitions of a
bankrupt retailer. It was also found that diversification in the shoe sector was also not devised
strategically as due to interrelation of the jewellery and shoe business units; MHI was unable
to avoid the distorted attention of its top management. Likewise, cost of overseas expansion
was identified as outweighing the cost. It was recommended to MHI to focus on
characteristics of fragmented markets along with all the relevant factors of feasibility analysis
before entering into an overseas market.

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