Managing a smooth transition out of retail operations for clothing brand Long Tall Sally

long tall sally logo bags pink hair

Programme type: Transformation
Sector: Retail

The challenge

In March 2018 the proposal by the Board of Directors of Long Tall Sally to exit its International retail operations by March 2019 was approved by its owners. We were asked to set up the Transformation Programme that would ensure the successful execution of this decision.

The solution

The presentation pack to the owners provided the Programme Mandate for the change. Over a four-week period we applied the principles of Managing Successful Programmes to create the

  • Programme Management Plan including a single integrated schedule,
  • financial management processes to track the business case, including cash-flow
  • risk assessment and the process for risk management,
  • accountabilities and responsibilities,
  • templates for the standard reporting.

All of these documents were managed in an online portal which formed the basis for the Programme Management Office.

The transformation

The 28 closures required by the plan had already commenced so establishing the controls on the programme was an immediate priority. The scope of activity included; exiting leases and sites, redundancies, stock repatriation and disposal, marketing and promotion including customer communication and media management.

The Programme team met weekly on a Thursday. We ensured that the schedule was updated on a weekly basis and that a weekly report was developed, approved and then circulated to key internal stakeholders. We supported each of the work-stream leaders in their work.

The closures were staggered based on existing lease exit dates or, where long leases were in place, assumptions were made on closure dates. The changes to closure dates were the main source of change in the programme but contingency was in place in locations with the greatest uncertainty. Closures occurred progressively throughout 2018 and by the Autumn the schedule for the remainder became fixed. The final store scheduled for closure closed in early March 2019.

The outcome

The programme was completed on budget. The forecast cash-flow was updated regularly as it was material to the financial health of the business. The cost reductions achieved were as planned. The planned retention of retail sales through their partial conversion to online was ahead of target when the programme was closed in late March 2019. The business continues to track retention and the business case through the Summer of 2019. The programme is scheduled to go cash-positive as planned in late 2019.

The programme was managed in a controlled and predictable manner with no shocks or slippage.

Andrew Shapin, the CEO of Long Tall Sally, said

This business-critical programme required specialist management and I sought out Bill and Pearson Management Consultants Limited following a previous engagement. Bill provided exactly what I expected and was crucial to the on time and on budget delivery of all key KPI’s – he brought professional governance and discipline to the project and the entire team enjoyed working with him. Personally, it was a pleasure to work with him again and I am certain we will engage Bill on other projects.

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