Strategic management

Strategic management


Case Study
Sweet spreads manufacturer faces a sticky future
Hartley’s needs to diversify the family’s 100-year-old jam firm to keep it competitive in a
shrinking market but it is wary of predatory investors.
The challenges facing Hartley’s:
• To expand in a market that is shrinking.
• To diversify into new markets.
• To ensure that management is of top quality.
Fred Hartley knows all about jam but if he makes a wrong move his company could end up in a
pickle. The 41-year old is Managing Director of Hartley & Sons, Britain’s oldest family-owned
jam maker.
The trouble is that fewer people are buying jam and those that are, tend to go for supermarket
brands. Now Hartley’s is trying to conserve its income by diversifying into sauces and even
spring water. For that it needs money but the company is wary of attracting outside investors in
case their involvement changes the culture of the 100 year-old firm. Fred Hartley’s great-grand
father Albert founded Hartley’s in London in 1881. Fred joined straight from school and took
over as Managing Director from his father Tony in 1994. Jam and marmalade still account for
45% of its sales of £33m but the market has been in decline for 50 years. In 1950 there were
about 40 big British manufacturers. Only three of these have survived and Hartley’s is the only
one that remains independent. It employs 220 people at two sites in South London.
“People don’t eat as much jam as they used to,” said Fred Hartley. “A typical English breakfast
used to include toast and jam, while a jam sandwich was a staple snack. Now it is competing
against cereal bars and crisps”. Changing dietary habits have also contributed to jam’s decline
because people increasingly want low-sugar food.
Hartley’s became a household name during the 1960s and 1970s, supplying most of the big
supermarkets. But the rise of supermarkets also initiated the decline of the businesses’
traditional branded business. The supermarkets’ fight for market share in staple products such
as jam and their introduction of cheap own-label alternatives has gradually cut the profit
margins on branded products.
The company saw the change coming. Under Tony Hartley it changed the emphasis of its
business from making jams under its own name to making own-label jam and other products
for supermarkets. Now, about 60% of its business is supplying own-label products, mainly jam
and condiments. Customers include Morrisons, Tesco and Sainsbury, which is its largest client,
accounting for 20% of total sales. Although sales volumes are high, the profit margins are low
and the market has little potential for growth, said Hartley. “The gross margin is down to
between 10% and 15%. You can’t run a business with our overheads on margins like that
While own-label jams pick up most of the business in the middle and lower sections of the
market, the top end is still dominated by the branded jams. This area offers much higher
margins, said Hartley but it is overcrowded. “Investment is required for new machinery as well
as marketing,” he said. “French brands such as Bonne Maman created that market and have
established strong positions”.
BSc (Hons) in Business Administration Strategic Management
Strategic Management March 2012 Format 1 © NCC Education Ltd 2012
Instead, Hartley wants to focus on developing niche’ products under the company’s own name,
such as luxury marmalades and a recently launched low-carbohydrate jam. He said these
sectors were still brand-led and offer higher margins.
Marmalade is more attractive because it is largely bought by more mature, wealthier
consumers. Marmalade is also cheaper to produce but Hartley is conscious of the risk in
dedicating resources to markets that are in overall decline or, at best, static.
Hartley’s also sells jam in bulk. It supplies cake makers and produces 100m portion-packs for
the NHS, schools and the prison service. Sales to the trade sector have grown substantially,
rising from £750,000 in 1999 to £4.7m in 2004.
Hartley’s has diversified into other markets. It began making peanut butter in the 1980s and
now has 50% of the market, representing 20% of the firm’s sales. It has also diversified into
condiments, producing own-label products such as apple, tartare and mint sauces. Recently, it
became the sole British cranberry sauce supplier to ocean Spray, the world’s largest producer
of cranberry products. The deal gave Hartley’s 90% of the British cranberry sauce market
overnight and increased its overall sales by £3m.
Hartley sees more potential to develop this side of the business but current sales are largely
low-margin, own-label products. He would prefer to develop the higher margin branded
condiments business but is unsure if the Hartley’s brand is appropriate. A second option, he
said, would be to buy and develop an established brand.
So far product diversification has enabled the company to survive although Hartley knows that
diversification is not just a matter of business development but a question of survival. Despite
new contracts and new products, profits have remained flat for the past three years at about
£550,000. The business has to diversify just to stand still but inevitably this takes it further
away from its core strengths. “It is the classic `busy fool’ situation – working harder and harder
for the same or even less return,” he said.
Last March, the company invested £100,000 in setting up Dragon Ice, a spring-water ice-cube
company in South Wales. It is a joint venture with a Welsh spring water producer and
Hartley’s owns 51% of the business.
It already has small contracts with Sainsbury, Tesco and Asda to supply spring-water ice cubes
but the aim is to introduce ice cubes – water packaged ready for consumers to freeze
themselves at home. It is the first time the company has diversified into a product so radically
different from its traditional market but Hartley believes the potential outweighs the risks.
“We have invested £100,000 so far and it will need at least the same again to really get it
moving. But given the growth of the whole mineral-water market, I see it as a huge
opportunity,” he said.
The company is still wholly family owned and self-financed. Hartley’s younger brother,
Richard, is Sales and Marketing Director but he is the only other family member with any dayto-
day involvement in the business. Both sit on the company’s main board of six, alongside
their father Tony, who is Chairman and three non-family directors. There are no non-executive
Having a family-dominated senior management team means decisions can be taken quickly
and the business can react swiftly to changes in the market. But the lack of external input is a
BSc (Hons) in Business Administration Strategic Management
Strategic Management March 2012 Format 1 © NCC Education Ltd 2012
weakness as well as a strength. With no non-executive directors, Hartley admits that he relies
on his father “to make the difficult decisions”.
Being self-financed, the company has to rely on its overdraft and existing reserves to finance
investments, which puts sizeable strategic investments out of its immediate reach. The
company is approached regularly by potential investors. Hartley believes that bringing in
external money would jeopardise the balance of the company and reduce the family’s control.
“We can invest £3m to £4m without a problem. It just means that we can’t go out and spend
£10m easily,” said Hartley. “People approach us all the time about investing but what they
really want is to take u

Emotional IQ

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1. Identify and justify four (4) areas of Emotional IQ a public leader should address in identifying their specific traits, behavior, and skill set.
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• Developing teams
• Motivation and empowerment
• Influence and power
Develop a plan for how a public leader can overcome his/her weaknesses in Emotional IQ.
Debate the pros and cons for how adaptability can affect a public leader’s leadership abilities with others.

s over. I can’t see anybody wanting to get involved other than to
consolidate it into someone else’s business.”
Source: Nigel Walton (2011)
Task 1 – 50 Marks
What are the key strategic issues (internal and external) impacting upon Hartley’s future
Task 2 – 50 Marks
What recommendations would you make to Fred Hartley regarding future competitive and
corporate strategies?

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