CASE STUDIES

Dive into Karen Matthews’s success stories shown in these case studies of real life success. We unveil the secrets behind business transformation journeys that redefine the very essence of success. In the dynamic landscape of commerce, navigating the complexities of growth and sustainability requires not just expertise, but a visionary approach.

Karen Matthews has been a guiding light for numerous entrepreneurs, propelling their ventures toward unparalleled achievements. Through these case studies, you’ll witness firsthand accounts of businesses undergoing profound metamorphosis.
From identifying untapped potentials to implementing innovative strategies, each story encapsulates the essence of resilience, strategic thinking, and unwavering determination.

Business transformation isn’t just a goal; it’s a continuous process of evolution and adaptation.

These case studies serve as a testament to the power of transformative leadership, showcasing how astute guidance can turn challenges into opportunities. Join us on this enlightening journey, where real-world experiences illuminate the path to sustainable success.

Let these narratives inspire, educate, and motivate you as you embark on your own transformative business expedition. Book a call with Karen to discuss or uncover some amazing processes for your business.

ELLA BACHE

Family-owned franchise SME, 54yr old business, 60 employees, International presence independently owned stores + wholesale Distribution, RTO & Manufacturing

A business that operated purely on love, loyalty and family, was in dire shape. Low margins, flat sales and increasing costs resulted from absent strategic and operating plans, and no meaningful reporting, performance focus, KPIs or accountability.

Australia’s first franchise model in the sector
Distribution network consolidation
Investment in product development and education

THE PROBLEM

Imagine a 50+-year-old family business that operated purely on love and loyalty. It had no business systems or processes, supplier agreements, brand guidelines or detailed customer experience strategy.

Despite being recognised internationally, the independently-owned business never saw the need to create repeatable systems or frameworks for its staff or distributors, and had no plan for growth.

After 54 years of operating, the business, built on love, loyalty and family, was starting to decline. Increasing competition, flat sales, falling margins and increasing costs. An absence of strategic and operating plans, and no meaningful reporting, performance focus, KPIs or accountability, meant the business was unable to respond. The company hadn’t produced a new product for years! They were stuck and the market was moving much faster than they were.

KAREN'S ACTIONS

A brand is the core of any business. When working with a 54-year-old company built on love, loyalty and family, transforming it with brand-centric business systems and respect for its values and brand heritage, was critical.

In collaboration with internal and external stakeholders, Karen transformed a fragmented distribution network into a systemised franchise model that respected the business heritage, the brand story and the industry.

The brand-led process was executed under a 2-year strategic vision and driven by transparency, respect, empathy, communication, bravery and determination. Respecting the heart and soul of the business whilst overlaying new processes and systems was the key to long-term success.

Led by Karen Matthews, every aspect of the strategic plan was bespoke. Designed specifically for the business, industry and all stakeholders, Karen took the founders and staff on a business transformation journey with an unwavering focus on the vision and goals.

THE RESULTS

Over two years, the company realigned strategically, operationally and financially. Karen’s business transformation strategies set it up for long term growth.

New business processes, financial planning, talent development and a commitment to implementation transformed a family business into a franchising powerhouse whilst upholding the brand’s heritage and strong family values.

A fragmented and disengaged network transformed into an aligned and engaged collective of franchisees, with a shared vision and love of the brand.

Australia’s first franchise model in the sector

A fragmented customer experience was consolidated into a brand-led franchise network of brand-aligned business owners. Over two years:

  • Retail and wholesale sales increased more than 300%
  • Profit returned and the balance sheet became cash flow positive
  • Brand awareness exploded and market share grew

Distribution network consolidation

Alongside creating a tight-knit franchise network, Karen consolidated the brand’s fragmented retail presence to a single department store, David Jones. Exclusivity resulted in a string of wins, including:

  • Improved operational expenses
  • Reduction in operating costs thanks to a single Department store presence
  • A consolidated inventory system reduced inventory holdings
  • Improved trading terms delivered a significant improvement in cash flow. The business finally had cash in the bank!

Investment in product development and education

The combination of new product development and ongoing training built an engaged network of loyal and dedicated franchisees, translating into higher profit margins and a significant improvement in the bottom line.

  • A new commitment to education saw the company invest in a state-of-the-art educational facility in NSW. Increasing student capacity by 380% improved the educational offer and resulted in franchisees delivering a consistent customer experience.
  • A new focus and commitment to product development, including higher-margin categories, enhanced the brand’s market positioning, grew market share and delivered significant bottom-line improvement.
  • Implementation of a strong performance culture created a motivated, engaged and ambitious team and franchise network. A simple and focused performance management system based on accountabilities, values and deliverables ensured implementation achieved longevity.

FREEDOM

Large Corporate Retailer, 30yr old business, 2500 employees, national company-owned stores + franchise stores

THE PROBLEM

Despite 30 years of operation, with stores across the country, one of Australia’s largest and most iconic furniture retail brands was lost. A disengaged team, resulting from an apathetic and inert culture driven by process and admin systems, had lost its mojo.

The once aspirational, energetic business had lost its brand’s essence. Their once distinct USP had disappeared and they had become one of many in a junkyard of retail stores, driven by low prices and generic customer experience.

KAREN'S ACTIONS

Starting with the core purpose of the business, its brand, Karen set in motion a range of strategies to reengineer the business’ USP from a bargain-basement warehouse to an aspirational mid-market brand.

A redesign of store floor plans to present furniture and homewares as stories, rather than simply products, alongside a new  ‘stake in the ground’ strategy, taught staff to sell based on inspiration and aspiration, not product.

Key metrics to focus, motivate and reward staff reignited their love for what they do and why they worked for the business. Removing unnecessary non-sales tasks from the store team allowed staff to put the customer at the core of their role. PPH improved, inefficiencies were stamped out, and fewer errors increased their motivation and improved the customer experience.

Karen developed and introduced an in-store interior design service to elevate the brand, resulting in multiple unit sales and increasing ATV, daily dockets, overall sales/store/week and ultimately increased profit.

Alongside the company-store transformation, Karen gave the franchise arm of the business a voice. With franchisee satisfaction improved, franchisees were re-engaged and willing to participate proudly as part of the network. As a result, sales increased and with that, the bottom line.

THE RESULTS

Over three years, the culture was restored, the business was aligned and the brand’s point of difference was being recognised, all resulting in transformation across all aspects of the business.

Introduction of in-house interior decorating service

The introduction of an iD (Interior Decorating Service) was a foundational growth pillar of the business transformation plan. The service was a visible point of difference in a highly competitive, discount driven market.

  • Sales growth year on year through FY14 to FY16.
  •  Growth in all retail metrics year on year, specifically productivity per hour (PPH), Average Transaction Value (ATV) and the company’s Net Promoter Score (NPS).

The business signed a strategic partnership with Sydney Design School to support the new service, further elevating the brand’s inspirational tone.

Staff Reengagement

Staff were once again engaged, motivated and proud to work for the business.

  • Clear accountabilities aligned store staff to the brand vision ie to re-establish it as an aspirational mid-market retail brand.
  • A high-performance formula for Store Managers streamlined recruitment and ensured consistent performance management across company-owned and franchised stores.
  • A strategic and operational training and development calendar ensured ongoing support of staff and the company’s vision.

Franchise Business

In FY16, Karen identified the companys’ franchise arm as a strategic growth pillar. She developed and implemented the business strategy, franchise model and operations structure. The contribution of the franchise arm between FY14 and FY15 grew and was significant to the overall performance of the business.

GUESS

Start-up ‘new business subsidiary’ for a 30-year-old family-owned retail business,  international presence, company-owned stores, wholesale distribution and licensing

THE PROBLEM

30 years into operation, sales numbers and profit growth of this family-owned business stagnated. It only knew one way to grow – expand its capital-intensive retail store strategy. There was no Plan B.

With its stores overflowing with products from the parent brands, little control over range and escalating rents and salaries, there was no strategic scope to shift to a new way of doing business. The reality was, the historical road to growth was expensive, slow and high risk.

KAREN'S ACTIONS

Karen instantly recognised the cause of the business’ woes and devised a plan to reduce its reliance on parent brands with a global licensing strategy.

Over three years, Karen developed, implemented and successfully executed a business case, strategic plan and sales strategy grounded in licensing. She identified, negotiated and secured a licence to design, manufacture and distribute a line of accessories for the company’s main parent brand (Guess).

The strategy focused on sourcing and manufacturing capabilities (in both China and Eurpoe) that ultimately improved the company’s distribution opportunities, profitability, provided  a new product offering (for both retail and wholesale distribution) and minimised risk. This strategy also provided the parent brand with a new ‘on brand’ line to compliment their ready to wear collection.

The plan quickly made sense and was expanded to represent a global accessories business designing, manufacturing and distributing fashion accessory lines for a number of well known global brands.

THE RESULTS

By the end of Karen’s four and half year tenure, the company had transformed from a stagnant high-cost low growth retail distribution business to a $25 million licensing powerhouse representing a number of well-known fashion brands with bespoke accessory lines. These brands included Guess, Ann Taylor, Isaac Mizrahi and Bill Blass.

Embedding licensing and product development as a wholly owned subsidiary within the parent company allowed the business to maintain a single focus on its retail distribution strategy with the comfort that there was a new fast growth arm within the business driving growth. Ongoing improvement in manufacturing costs and operating efficiency resulted in year-on-year gross profit and bottom-line improvements, without the capital intensive and slow return investment needed for new retail stores or higher investment in retail staff.

RECOGNITION OF KAREN'S WORK

Karen’s leadership and strategies achieved national recognition.

2004 Karen won the Telstra Business Women’s Award
2005 Karen won the PWC NSW Franchise Woman of the Year
2007 Karen won the PWC National Franchise Woman of the Year