MGT306: Woolworths Holdings Limited- International Marketing Case Study Assignment

May 24, 2018
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Question:Marketing Case Study

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Marketing Case Study Assignment

Case Scenario

In April 2014, Australian retail industry (especially for department chain store) is undergoing an earthquake when the South African retailer Woolworths Holdings Limited (JSE Code: WHL) announced A$2.15 billion acquisition offer to one of the largest Australian department chain store company, David Jones Limited (ASX Code: DJS). On Wed (9th April 2014), David Jones board recommends this $4.00 cash per share offer made by Woolworths. This action has immediately received significant attention from the public. (Please read attached articles from media release about this acquisition)

Note: Woolworths Holdings Limited (JSE: WHL) is not Woolworths Limited (ASX Code: WOW).

Assignment Task

You are now required to use knowledge learned from MGT306 to analyse this real world case in accordance with following instructions:

  1. From the vision, mission and core values of WHL and DJS to analyse whether or not this acquisition will fit both of these two companies;
  2. Analyse both WHL's and DJS's current competitive strategies (i.e., low-cost provider, broad differentiation, market niche, and best-cost provider, etc.)
  3. Use five force model to analyse why WHL want to acquire DJS? What are the competitive advantages for this acquisition?
  4. Use SWOT model to analyse if the acquisition is successful, will it strengthen WHL's competitiveness? If yes, will this competitiveness be achieved in Australia or globally?
  5. Analyse this South African retailer's international marketing strategies. Why does it choose acquisition strategy?
  6. Analyse why WHL choose now to acquire DJS. Is it a good timing for it to implement this acquisition strategy?
  7. Analyse if this acquisition is successful, what would be the defensive strategies for their major local market competitors (i.e., Myer, Kmart, etc.) and global rivals (e.g., Inditex SA, Hennes & Mauritz AB)?

Sydney - South Africa’s Woolworths agreed to buy Australian retailer David Jones for A$2.15 billion ($2 billion), to expand in a market targeted by global rivals including Inditex SA and Hennes & Mauritz AB.

David Jones shares rose by a record 23 percent today to close at A$3.91 in Sydney, below the A$4 cash offer.

Myer Group, its main listed department store competitor, also withdrew an all-stock, zero-premium merger proposal first made October 28 when the target company’s shares closed at A$2.71.

Buying the 38-outlet Australian chain increases Woolworths’ presence in a country Credit Suisse Group AG says is the world’s second-wealthiest.

The deal also gives the retailer buying power to compete against global fast-fashion groups including Zara, H&M and Arcadia Group Plc’s Topshop, which are expanding into both countries.

“Those chains are in a global arms race to open new stores now,” Caroline Finch, a senior analyst at Ibisworld in Melbourne, said by phone.

Local retailers in Australia and South Africa have to work harder, she said, because “the H&Ms and Zaras of this world have been nipping at their heels, taking the attention of a very fashion-focused consumer.”

Woolworths Holdings, South Africa’s second-largest retailer by market value, isn’t related to the Australian supermarket chain Woolworths Ltd.

Southern Hemisphere

“We’re buying this business to build a bigger southern hemisphere brand,” Ian Moir, Woolworths chief executive officer, told reporters in Sydney today.

“We’ve got real scale in the southern hemisphere, we’ve got the same seasonality, so we’ve got a real competitive advantage over northern hemisphere entrants.”

Southern hemisphere winters fall in the north’s summer, creating a challenge for incoming clothing retailers from Europe, North America and North Asia, Moir said.

The deal, which has already been agreed to by David Jones’s board, is Australia’s largest retail takeover since 2007, when Wesfarmers bought Coles Group, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

It values the target at about 11.1 times the last 12 months’ its A$192.7 million in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

That’s a 13 percent premium to the median valuation in developed-market retail acquisitions over $1 billion in the past five years, the data show.

‘Looks Expensive’

“It does look expensive currently, but they’ve obviously done their sums,” Evan Lucas, a market strategist at IG in Melbourne, said by phone, referring to Woolworths Holdings.

Woolworths slumped as much as 6 percent to 69.10 rand in Johannesburg before trading at 69.99 rand as of 9:03 a.m. local time.

Myer made its initial approach on October 28 last year, when David Jones shares closed at A$2.71.

The retailer said today it was dropping the merger proposal in light of the Woolworths offer.

“We have always maintained a disciplined approach to valuation,” the company said in a regulatory statement.

Woolworths’ offer is “a decent price which I probably will accept,” Simon Marais, chairman of Allan Gray Australia, said by e-mail.

The fund manager is David Jones’s fifth-biggest shareholder with a 5 percent stake, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Moir had a “robust negotiation” with David Jones chairman Gordon Cairns over the price, the Woolworths chief executive told the media call.

The acquisition would be funded through a mix of cash, debt and a sale of new shares, with the value and other details of the equity raising to be disclosed in a shareholder letter in mid-May, Moir said.

Upmarket Retailer

Buying 176-year-old David Jones will give Woolworths control of an upmarket retailer in a country that has the world’s highest wealth per adult after Switzerland, according to Credit Suisse.

“The Australian economy is a little sluggish but this is a strong economy and it will come back,” Moir said.

The strong Australian dollar “creates a natural rand hedge for our business in South Africa,” he said.

David Jones, which has seen sales from stores open at least 12 months decline in all but two of the past 13 quarters, now stands to benefit should spending from higher-end consumers in Australia rise, Michael Simotas, a Sydney-based analyst at Deutsche Bank AG, wrote in a

February 11 note to clients.

The Reserve Bank of Australia has cut the benchmark interest rate to a record-low 2.5 percent as it seeks to avoid a growth gap emerging in the economy from waning mining investment.

Consumer Spending

That’s helped boost Australian house prices, retail sales, and confidence.

The nation’s household savings ratio, a key measure for forecasting consumer spending, fell below 10 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013 for the first time since 2010.

The offer “recognises the potential of the David Jones business, the positioning of the department store here and the value of the property” owned by the Australian company, Grant Saligari, an analyst at Credit Suisse in Melbourne, said by phone.

Woolworths already owns 88 percent of fashion chain Country Road Ltd. in Australia, so “they’ve got experience in this market,” Credit Suisse’s Saligari said.

The South African company currently gets about 16 percent of its revenues from Australia, where sales by Country Road have more than doubled over the last four fiscal years to A$706 million in the year ended last June.

If the two companies had been combined during their 2013 fiscal years, Australasia sales of 22.6 billion rand ($2.16 billion) would have amounted to about 43 percent of total revenue, according to a calculation by Bloomberg.

That size will help compete with offshore entrants, Moir said: “You’ve either got to accept that competition’s there and compete with it, or roll over and die.” - Bloomberg News

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The discussion concerns a management case study. The management case study is about the acquisition of David Jones Limited (DJS) by Woolworths Holdings Limited (WHL). WHL is a multinational company that was initiated in South Africa. It is also headquartered in South Africa. DJS is a company that was formed in Australia. The acquisition enables WHL to acquire controlling stakes of DJS at a total cost of 2.15 billion Australian dollars. The acquisition offer was made on April 9, 2015, and the illustrated share price was $4 (Luiz, Bowen & Beswick 2011). The acquisition generated a lot of discussions internationally, and thus, it has been used as a case study in various business articles and seminars.

Acquisition Fit

The acquisition will effectively achieve the mission, vision and values of the two companies. The vision of WHL entails providing high-quality retail services and also products to the regional and global customers. DJS also aims at delivering quality products and services that properly achieve high customer experience. One of the main intentions of the acquisition is to improve business processes for both companies so as to provide high-quality products and services to the customers. The acquisition strategy aligns with the mission of the two companies. Customer satisfaction is a major milestone that if accomplished, the company can manage to realize its short and long-term goals. The acquisition has enabled DJS to have adequate resources for achieving customer satisfaction by providing appropriate beauty, fashion and domestic products and services.

WHL also aims at engaging in investments that enhance the level of customer satisfaction. The acquisition illustrates the processes of controlling the operations of DJS so as to enhance customer satisfaction with the main aim of increasing the sales revenue and also profitability. Core values are important in improving the quality or products offered by the two values. Through such acquisitions, the company can manage to have adequate resources that it might use in creating a cordial relationship with all its clients.

The acquisition shows that the two companies have similar core values (Papadopoulos& Heslop 2014). One of the core values is high customer experience. The acquisition of DJS by WHL aims at increasing the level of customer experience by delivering superior products and services. In the life of any business, there needs to be appropriate measures for satisfying clients. When the clients get exceptional services, they can be glued to the company because of the awesome experiences.

The management of WHL intends to guide DJS on the most effective production processes and also provide enough resources for the organizational processes. Another core value shared by the two companies is teamwork. WHL management relies on teamwork to make its investment decisions. Teamwork enables the management staffs to make important decisions such as acquiring DJS at a total cost of 2.15 billion Australian dollars (Jamie, 2014).

Competitive Strategies

The two companies have adopted various competitive strategies to enhance their success in the increasingly stiff international competition environment. Key strategies that the two companies have adopted are product differentiation, niche market, and best cost. The products of the two companies are differentiated in the market through costs, packaging and innovation. The products of the two companies are targeted at the middle and high income groups (Luiz, Bowen & Beswick 2011). The packaging of the products is uniquely branded to enhance visibility so that customers can easily identify them.

The packaging of the fashion products of DJS is very different from that of competitors like Myer and Kmart. Products are innovatively designed and manufactured so as to generate products and services that properly achieve the needs of the customers. Product differentiation easily enables the customers of DJS or WHL. The niche market of DJS is the Southern hemisphere, more so the Australia region. The niche market of WHL is South Africa. These companies maintain sufficient dominance in the niche market. However, they are gradually expanding in the international market. With such strategies, the acquisition can live to is dreams. The stiff competition that exists in the market requires the company to be innovative in creating a uniqueness with which it can be identified. This can help in capturing and enjoying a large share of the market.

WHL has shown the international expansion through increasing the Southern hemisphere market by acquiring DJS. The best cost strategy is helpful to the two companies because it enables them to set an appropriate price that is affordable to the target market comprising the low and middle income customers. Another strategy that the two companies have adopted in the competitive global business context is continuous innovation (Salunke, Weerawardena & McColl-Kennedy 2011). The companies continuously engage in new approaches of designing new products that will effectively realize the expectations of the customer. Innovation is also important in developing new business processes that maximize production output and increase

the level of quality.

Five Force Model

One of the strategies that can be applied in the management of the company is Porter’s Five Forces Model. According to this model, Porter suggests that there are five forces that should be addressed. These are: new entrants’ threats, customers bargaining ability, suppliers bargaining ability, competitive rivalry level, and substitute product threats. The five forces illustrates that the acquisition process initiated by WHL was very effective. The acquisition reduces the threats of new entrants in the international market because WHL automatically inherits the market of DJS in the southern hemisphere.

WHL intends to acquire DJS so as to properly achieve the bargaining ability of the buyers. The acquisition increases the economies of scale of an organization, and thus the company produces a lot of products or services and sells them at a reduced price. The customers’ bargain of low price is hence properly realized by acquisition (Papadopoulos & Heslop 2014). The suppliers’ bargaining power is enhanced through the acquisition of DJS by WHL. The acquisition increases the resource base of the company. The suppliers, therefore, receive sufficient and prompt payment for their inputs to the company. Acquisition increases the demand for company inputs. The suppliers must hence increase the quantities of the inputs and raw materials that they supply to the company. There are many substitute products in the fashion, home products, furniture, and electrical devices.

Acquisition enables the company to effectively market the products in the target market and thus enhance the publicity of its products and services. High competitive rivalry is properly addressed by acquisition. WHL uses best practices in the international business context to minimize competition in the southern hemisphere region (Luiz, Bowen & Beswick 2011). Developing innovative products or services is necessary for reducing competition, because customers will only buy products or services that properly realize their expectations.

SWOT Model

SWOT is a business strategy that is utilized in analyzing the effectiveness of business processes. SWOT is an abbreviation for strength, weakness, opportunity and finally threat that is experienced by a business organization like WHL. SWOT analysis shows that the acquisition process is a success. It is important for all business organizations to carry out a SWOT analysis because it can help in identifying its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Through this, the organization can ascertain the extent to which it has accomplished its goals as well as

the weak areas in which it needs to improve for better performance.

Just like any other business entity, WHL has its own strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The strength of WHL is enhanced by acquisition. The company inherits the resources of DJS after acquisition; for example, the competent staffs. Acquisition reduces the

weaknesses of WHL. The company had a low presence in the southern hemisphere market. Acquisition thus enables WHL to get a significant share of the Australian market. Acquisition increases the opportunities of WHL.

The company has enough chances of increasing its presence in the southern hemisphere market. The threats faced by the company are minimized through the acquisition process. One threat that is minimized is the competition from other companies. Acquisition enables the company to have resources, technology and innovation that creates competitive products or services. The acquisition strategy will improve the performance and also the competitiveness of WHL (Salunke, Weerawardena & McColl-Kennedy 2011).

The acquisition enables WHL to access the international market and hence sell its products and services to millions of people globally. Huge international market translates to high sales revenue and also high profit margins. Acquisition creates affordability of services and products, because of the issue of economies of scale. The company produces more outputs in bulk, and this result in less production cost per unit of product or service. Competitiveness as a result of the acquisition strategy will be realized at the international level. WHL will get more sales from international operations based on increased numbers from Australia and other regions of the southern hemisphere (Brett 2014). The company will also get more customers internationally due to the high quality of services and products.

International Marketing Strategies

For WHL to fully globalize its operations, it needs to adopt viable marketing strategies. This is the only way through which the company can manage to access all its potential and existing clients in whichever part of the world they are. WHL uses various marketing strategies in the international business environment. One marketing strategy is social media marketing. The company uses social networks like YouTube, Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. Very many people internationally use these social networks, and the company currently has hundreds of thousands of followers and friends in these sites. The company regularly updates new products so that people can know their quality and effectiveness. Another marketing strategy is acquisition. Acquisition creates huge publicity, because the public want to understand the reasons and nature of the companies involved in the acquisition process. The customers and potential customers aim at understanding the product or service benefits that the acquisition process provides internationally.

Acquisition enables the international customers to understand the desirable changes and features that the dominant company will provide. International marketing is also done through mass media advertisements. Major international broadcasting stations have advertisement slots that are used in creating publicity about a products or services offered by a business organization. Popular television shows like CNN have millions of international viewership. Advertisements that occur during CNN are effective in attracting and retaining new products. WHL understood that the acquisition strategy is the most effective in attracting and retaining customers (Salunke, Weerawardena & McColl-Kennedy 2011). Acquisition enables WHL to get all the customers of DSJ. The customers are also retained through adopting new innovative practices that facilitative production of high quality commodities and services. Acquisition between companies that operate in different countries creates enough marketing effects. This is because the media outlets provide adequate information to the members of the public in the business segment.

Adopting Acquisition Strategy

WHL made a good decision to acquire DJS. The acquisition enabled WHL to increase the customer base, because it has inherited the customers that DJS served before the acquisition. WHL now has a presence in the southern hemisphere with majority of the customers in Australia. The acquisition strategy is important to WHL because it will lead to increased sales revenue and profitability. Increased customer base translates to high sales revenue and hence increased sales earnings and also profit margins. Acquisition increases innovation in the business processes. The acquiring company adopts new business activities that will effectively achieve the needs and expectations of the clients or customers.

Acquiring companies introduce new technologies that ensure effectiveness and efficiency in business processes. New technologies generate high output of commodities and services that are of high quality. WHL benefits from sufficient or extra resources as a result of the acquisition process. The company will additionally get the human, financial or technological resources that were previously owned by DJS. Implementing the acquisition strategy is good. WHL is able to get new customers, increase international presence, adopt proper innovation processes, enhance the output generated, ensure high quality products or services, and effectively achieve the expectations of the customers (Salunke, Weerawardena & McColl-Kennedy 2011). The motivation of the staffs is also improved because the acquisition is a positive change that aims at expanding international presence of the company. During acquisition, all company staffs are trained on how to properly work in the new work environment. This motivates them because they acquire additional competencies.

Acquisition Analysis

The acquisition is very successful. The financial requirements for the acquisition process were effectively achieved, because WHL provided 1.25 billion Australian dollars for the exercise. The finances were used to cater for the DSJ shareholder demand of $4 for every share held (Lee, Kim & Park 2012). The acquisition of the two companies was successful because the top leadership of the two companies participated in the decision making processes. The decision by both management teams were accepted by the shareholders and board of directors of the two business organizations. WHL has adopted defensive strategies to address local competition by companies like Myer and Kmart. Increase in outlets will enhance service delivery, and thus reduce domestic competition. International competition by companies like Inditex SA is addressed through intense online presence and social media campaigns that inform customers on new product development initiatives (Luiz, Bowen & Beswick 2011). Product innovation through using new technology will minimize international competition, because unique and high quality products or services will be provided y the company.


The acquisition generates a lot of positive results for the South African multinational WHL. The exercise has increased the global presence of the company, because presently it actively operates in the southern hemisphere area. The high international publicity that the acquisition generated is important because it improved the publicity of WHL globally. As a marketing approach, global publicity or presence is important in attracting and retaining customers. Customers are likely to benefit from enhanced product and service quality because of the innovations introduced to enhance the customer experience.

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