Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 20th 2014 Contents APRIL 20 • 2014 www.guardian.co.tt SUNDAY BUSINESS GUARDIAN
CASE STUDY | SBG 13
When Hamza Ali
arrived at his fam-
ily s clothing store,
he knew that he
had a real challenge
on his hands.
The store manager had resigned suddenly
to accept a job with a competitor and, at
just 24, Hamza had been asked by his father
to manage a store that had been losing money
and where employee morale was declining
rapidly. Hamza knew that he had to act
quickly to turn things around before his
family lost the business entirely.
Clothes Enough Ltd
Clothes Enough Ltd had been a retailer of
women s clothing since 1981 when Nazim
Ali, Hamza s father, decided to leave his job
as a school teacher and open his own busi-
ness. The store had started on a very small
scale and, from its inception, had focused
on providing a wide assortment of clothing
at reasonable prices.
The store soon gained a reputation for its
low prices and friendly service, a strategy
which proved increasingly attractive to cus-
tomers during tough economic times.
Initially, the owner had been directly
responsible for managing all aspects of the
store s operations but, as the business
expanded, he had decided to hire a store
manager who was responsible for monitoring
market conditions and developing the staff.
Traditionally, the manager was selected
from among the employees to ensure that
the person understood the values of the busi-
ness and knew what customers expected. As
competition intensified, the role of the man-
ager had become even more important to
the store s survival as the manager was often
the first person to spot shifts in market trends
that affected the merchandise that the store
kept in stock.
The manger was also responsible for han-
dling any problems that arose in the daily
operations and ensuring customers were sat-
As part of its marketing strategy, the store
posted weekly deals for several items on a
notice board outside the store s entrance.
These items were sold below cost to attract
customers and drive store traffic.
The Ali family was also very active in the
community and contributed to several sport-
ing clubs and charitable organisations in the
As a result, the owner and, by extension,
the store were perceived very favourably by
customers and this allowed the company to
differentiate itself from competitors.
About Hamza Ali
Hamza was the eldest of three children
and had recently graduated with an under-
graduate degree in business administration.
While growing up, he had worked alongside
his father in the family s business during
vacations and while at university had been
responsible for preparing the store s accounts.
Upon graduation, he had planned on open-
ing a small cellphone dealership in one of
the nearby malls to establish his independ-
ence from the family business and gain some
experience in managing his own business.
Being asked to manage the family store
was certainly not something he expected to
happen so soon.
Dealing with the crisis
The first thing that Hamza did after being
appointed store manager was to have a staff
meeting with the store s 12 employees to explain
his vision for the business. He quickly realised
that due to the mounting losses, the staff was
demoralised and fearful of losing their jobs.
Even worse, many employees were openly
resentful of the fact that the boss son had
been chosen to manage the store at such a
The previous manager had made a mess of
things by not spending any time on staff train-
ing and it was not uncommon for customers
to complain about the rude treatment they
received while in the store. A casual glance at
the racks of clothing revealed that many of
the styles were outdated and the more recent
additions were often hidden behind piles of
Hamza felt that he had no choice but to
take decisive action. At the end of the first
month he replaced three of the cashiers because
of customer complaints about their poor atti-
He also sent two of the floor assistants that
he felt showed potential to a training workshop
at the nearby university to improve their cus-
tomer service skills. Some of his efforts to
change the culture at the store, however, were
less than successful.
Although he kept constantly emphasising to
staff the importance of displaying the clothing
properly so that customers could easily find
the latest designs, employees seemed to ignore
his suggestions. He also started docking the
pay of employees who came to work more than
15 minutes late but this did not seem to have
any effect and he found it difficult to get along
with some of the older members of the staff.
Two months after he started as manager,
staff morale had not significantly improved
and the store was still losing money. As Hamza
reflected on where things stood, he wondered
whether he should lay off some employees to
cut costs and free up some money that he
could use to introduce a more modern line of
clothing. He was also concerned about the
continued morale problem but was not sure
what he could do to motivate his staff.
After the latest staff meeting, which had
not gone particularly well, Hamza thought to
himself "university taught me a lot, but it cer-
tainly didn t teach me how to get out of a
mess like this."
1. What are the major issues being
confronted by Hamza Ali?
2. Is Hamza Ali's leadership style
appropriate for this situation?
3. What specific actions should
Hamza Ali take to turn things around
at the store?
These questions will be answered in the
next Sunday BG issue.
Case Study: Clothes Enough Ltd
Retail business in the red
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