Boden Clothing Catalog started with humble beginnings and survived all these years to become one of the prime UK retailers.
As the company founder, Johnnie Boden says on the company website (2009), “After five burglaries, one office dog, nine Christmas quizzes, twelve nights spent in the warehouse, one consignment of refugees arriving with a clothes delivery, four office moves, quite a few sense of humour failures, a few sackings (but thankfully not many), 2 venture capitalists, 6 awards, about twenty fantastically annoying customers (mostly related to me), a couple of crooks, 520 King Pizzas (“Continental” medium thin crust with extra anchovies for me), a great team spirit, one incredibly tolerant wife, bucket loads of sweat and even more laughs, we’re still here! ”, the company has indeed come a long way. However, the issue now is whether it can survive these tough times with a global downturn in the world economy severely threatening the prosperity of the firm?
Company History ; Operational Overview
Boden Clothing Company was founded by Johnnie Boden in 1991 as a mail order catalog selling initially 8 menswear products. Educated at Eton and Oxford, Boden had a career as a City Financier before his eventual venturing into self employment. With a solid education behind him and a rich working experience, Boden began building the foundations of what would become one of the UK’s prime clothing retailers.
According to the company website (2009), after consolidating gains in the menswear clothing line, the company diversified into womenswear in 1994 and launched children swear under the Mini Boden brand in 1996. After having spread their lines into these genres, the company then began concentrating on alternate delivery channels. Initially, the company had been selling through telephone and mail order but with the arrival of the Internet revolution, the dot com trend and the rising e-commerce sector, the company entered the on line foray in April 1999 with the launch of its UK website. 2002 saw the company making a geographical diversification into the United States with a dedicated U. S website.
Large scale growth allowed for the opening of the company’s Leicester warehouse in 2003 followed by the first brick and mortar outlet at Hanger Lane, London in 2004, with a second store at Walton – on – Thames in 2007. 2007 proved to be a highly eventful year as the company launched a baby wear line under the Baby Boden brand and entered mainland Europe with a dedicated German website. The company has enjoyed enormous success since its humble beginnings and today, according to Laeeq (2007) “boasts a staff of 600 workers, a daily order dispatch of 3,000 and sales in excess of GBP 120m in 2007” (P. 115). Due to the fact that the company is held privately, financial accounts are not made public. However, according to Laeeq (2007), “independent estimates put the company sales at roughly GBP 130 – 150 Million in 2008” (P. 116).
There are two warehouses, one in Leicester (United Kingdom) and the other in Scranton, Pennsylvania (United States). Manufacturing is entirely outsourced to third parties in Europe, Asia and North Africa. The company retains core functions of research, designing and marketing in house. Business Strategy Boden’s business strategy encompasses an innovative financial and business framework that aims at maximum value creation without commitment of a large amount of financial resources. Assessing the company through Porter’s generic strategies, one can derive that the company follows a narrow focused approach with an emphasis on differentiation.
Its products are priced highly with a middle class focus. The differentiation occurs in quality of the product, the bright color schemes described as “Yummy Mummy”, the design aspects of the clothing and the marketing of the products themselves, which according to Shafi (2008) serve “as an invitation to a more colorful life as opposed to the strictly sophisticated and deeply rooted traditional feel of competitors such as Marks and Spencer in the UK and the urban slick appeal of GAP in the USA” (P. 147). Hence, in a sense, the company has a balancing appeal, with equality achieved between tradition and neo modern urbanism, transatlantic in its truest sense.