Strategic comparison of three companies

Executive Summary

Strategic or institutional management is the conduct of drafting, implementing and evaluating cross-functional decisions that will enable an organization to achieve its long-term objectives. It is the process of specifying the organization's mission, vision and objectives, developing policies and plans, often in terms of projects and programs, which are designed to achieve these objectives and then allocating resources to implement the policies, and plans, projects and programs. A balanced scorecard is often used to evaluate the overall performance of the business and its progress towards objectives.

Good business strategies plot changes in where a company is going. Corporate strategy, Business strategy, Functional strategies or operational strategies translates that direction into operational reality, creating strategic competitive advantage in the process. This is not just of theoretical concern, but matters to executives too - efforts by the management of firm B to match A's profitability could well destroy its ability to grow profits.

This assignment provides an overview and comparison of selected models used in the development of business strategy along side a brief discussion of schools of strategic thought in three organizations like Tesco, Sainsbury's and Waitrose. Judging by the bibliography searched and, perhaps, the major appeal of this paper, is that a selection of common strategy development models and tools are compared systematically in this single paper.


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All praises to GOD, who gave me the power of thought & made me able to do this project. Person is not perfect in all the context of his life. It is the guidance form the almighty GOD that shows the man light in the darkness and the person finds his way in this light. Person is nothing but a helpless creative. Thanks to Allah Almighty for completion of my project.

In the process of completing this work, I have accumulated a great debt of gratitude to a number of people. Although it is not possible to mention all those who have been helpful to me in one way or another, yet there are some persons who deserve a special word of acknowledgement.

I am privileged to express my profound gratitude to Dr. Arif Malik and Mr. David Snell. It would not have been possible for me to complete this report without their valuable guidance.

Identify three international organizations in the same league of business and summaries their journey from domestic to global. Identify their strategy models and compare & contrast their corporate, business and operational strategies. Critically assess the sources of their competitive advantage against each other.


In this paper, first of all I will briefly discuss the strategic Management ( Strategic Models, Corporate strategy, Business strategy, Functional strategies or operational strategies ). It's not unusual for entrepreneurs to get tripped up at this stage of planning. Many new business owners have minimal experience in operations and production. Whether you develop this strategy yourself or bring in a consultant to help, be sure your business plan clearly states the role operations will play in your company, who will be involved in establishing this infrastructure and what the potential costs are.

Strategic Management

Strategic management is the art and science of formulating, implementing and evaluating cross-functional decisions that will enable an organization to achieve its objectives. It is the process of specifying theorganization's objectives, developing policies and plans to achieve these objectives, and allocating resources to implement the policies and plans to achieve the organization's objectives. Strategic management provides overall direction` to the enterprise and is closely related to the field ofOrganization Studies.[1]

"Strategic management is an ongoing process that evaluates and controls the business and the industries in which the company is involved; assesses its competitors and sets goals and strategies to meet all existing and potential competitors; and then reassesses each strategy annually or quarterly [i.e. regularly] to determine how it has been implemented and whether it has succeeded or needs replacement by a new strategy to meet changed circumstances, new technology, new competitors, a new economic environment., or a new social, financial, or political environment." (Lamb, 1984:ix)

Porter's five forces Model

Probably the most influential strategist of the decade was Michael Porter. He introduced many new concepts including; 5 forces analysis, generic strategies, the value chain, strategic groups, and clusters. Porter's generic strategies detail the interaction between cost minimization strategies, product differentiation strategies, and market focus strategies.

Corporate strategy refers to the overarching strategy of the diversified firm. Such a corporate strategy answers the questions of "which businesses should we be in?" and "how does being in these businesses create synergy and/or add to the competitive advantage of the corporation as a whole?"[2]

In Corporate Strategy the Seven S Framework is very important. The Seven S Framework first appeared in "The Art Of Japanese Management" by Richard Pascale and Anthony Athos in 1981[3]. The Seven Factors are:

Business strategy refers to the aggregated strategies of single business firm or a strategic business unit (SBU) in a diversified corporation. According to Michael Porter, a firm must formulate a business strategy that incorporates either cost leadership, differentiation or focus in order to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage and long-term success in its chosen areas or industries.

Functional strategies include marketing strategies, new product development strategies, human resource strategies, financial strategies, legal strategies, supply-chain strategies, and information technology management strategies. The emphasis is on short and medium term plans and is limited to the domain of each department's functional responsibility. Each functional department attempts to do its part in meeting overall corporate objectives, and hence to some extent their strategies are derived from broader corporate strategies.

An additional level of strategy called operational strategy. All Organisations have a clear business strategy and vision, but is it being delivered at an operational level? Many organisations suffer from the following issues[4]:

  • deeply complex structures and processes, that have evolved over years, with lack of clarity over end-to-end processes, ownership of processes, and current service levels and performance metrics
  • a new strategic vision and direction, but the operational units are paralysed by the complexity of changing to meet this new strategy

Competitive advantage:

Competitive advantage is a theory that seeks to address some of the criticisms of comparative advantage.. Competitive advantage theory[5] suggests that states and businesses should pursue policies that create high-quality goods to sell at high prices in the market. Porter emphasizes productivity growth as the focus of national strategies. Competitive advantage rests on the notion that cheap labor is ubiquitous and natural resources are not necessary for a good economy. The other theory, comparative advantage can lead countries to specialize in exporting primary goods and raw materials that trap countries in low-wage economies due to terms of trade. Competitive advantage attempts to correct for this issue by stressing maximizing scale economies in goods and services that garner premium prices (Stutz and Warf 2009).

The term competitive advantage is the ability gained through attributes and resources to perform at a higher level than others in the same industry or market.[6]

A competitive advantage can be attained if the current strategy is value-creating, and not currently being implemented by present or possible future competitors (Barney, 1991, p102).

Competitive Advantage can be sustained by:

  • Simultaneous continuous improvement in cost, quality, service, and product innovation
  • Breaking down organizational barriers between departments
  • Eliminating layers of management creating flatter organizational hierarchies.
  • Closer relationships with customers and suppliers
  • Intelligent use of new technology
  • Global focus
  • Improving human resource skills

After the above brief description of Strategic Management, now this assignment will analyze some strategic analysis of three successful organizations in UK i.e Tesco, Sainsbury's and Waitrose. These Companies are following many different strategies to compete each others. Which of them a brief discussion on development strategy through Employee Training & Development is as follows:


Tesco is the largest British retailer and is also the world's third largest grocery retailer with outlets across Europe, USA and Asia. The business began in 1919 with one man, Jack Cohen, selling groceries from a stall in the East End of London. Jack bought surplus stocks of tea from a company called T.E. Stockwell. T.E. Stockwell and Cohen combined their names to brand the tea Cohen originally sold - TESCO tea. In 1929, the first Tesco store opened in north London.[7]

As the company has grown, so has its workforce. From one man and a stall, Tesco now has approximately 280,000 employees in the UK and over 460,000 worldwide. To serve its widening markets it needs flexible and well-trained staff that can recognise the needs of the customer.

Tesco recognizes that increasing knowledge, improving skills and job satisfaction of employees are all vital to the continued growth of the company. Tesco provides training and development opportunities for its employees

Identifying training needs

Tesco's aim to expand and diversify requires the business to have the right people, in the right place, at the right time. Many factors affect workforce planning:

  • The opening of new stores in new locations means that Tesco must adapt to different demands made by consumers. For instance, stores in highly populated diverse areas may need to sell a high proportion of speciality goods to meet the requirements of its customers, so selecting that stock requires a clear understanding of the customer profile in that area.
  • In-store and non-store based posts may require different technical skills and competencies.
  • Employees with a wide skills range who can work flexibly are more productive for the business.


Training is the acquisition of knowledge and skills in order for a person to carry out a specific task or job. Training benefits employees in several ways:

  • It increases their sense of ownership in the business.
  • They become more organised, productive and flexible and are better able to meet the needs of internal and external customers.
  • New skills and abilities in areas such as decision-making can empower staff, which makes them more effective.

Tesco's business image also benefits as customers are more confident in the competence and knowledge of staff. This in turn helps Tesco grow.

Tesco offers employees both on-the-job training and off-the-job training. On-the-job training methods at Tesco include:

  • shadowing - a person already in the job shows the employee how to do it
  • coaching - a manager or designated colleague will help trainees work through problems and inspire them to find solutions
  • mentoring - a more experienced member of staff acts as an adviser
  • job rotation orsecondment - the trainee has the opportunity of covering their target role, taking full responsibility on a temporary or limited basis.

For the employee, on-the-job training is directly relevant to their work, they get to know the people in their area and feel part of the team faster. On-the-job training also has several advantages for the company:

  • It is cheaper than off-the-job training.
  • Managers see progress and can help when problems arise to resolve them quickly.
  • The employee is still working during training so is more productive.
  • The employee puts learning into practice.


Development is about helping the person grow and extend their abilities. Tesco takes a shared responsibility approach to training and development. The trainee is primarily responsible for his or her development. Both the trainee and the line manager contribute to the programme by:

Tesco employees are encouraged to ask themselves strategic questions in order to assess their skills and ability to progress:

  • Do I know how?
  • Can I do it now?
  • What are my current skills?
  • What do I need to achieve a higher position?

Result of Training and Development Strategies.

Efficient and effective training and development of employees is an essential element for Tesco's continuing growth in an increasingly commercial world. Tesco requires employees who are committed and flexible in order to aid its expansion of the business. The expansion of Tesco relies on retaining existing customers and acquiring new ones. All customers need to be confident and happy in Tesco. This relies on committed and flexible employees delivering the highest standards of service to meet Tesco's objectives. Tesco's structured approach to training and developing its existing and new employees provides a strong foundation for its continuing growth.


Sainsbury's is the second largest grocery supermarket in the UK, and serves 18.5 million shoppers per week.[8]The latest figures from Sainsbury's (released October 7) show that the supermarket continues to match consumers' needs, and highlights include:

  • Total sales for second quarter were up3.2 per cent (6.8 per cent excluding fuel)
  • Like-for-like sales forsecond quarter were up 1.3 per cent (4.6 per cent excluding fuel)
  • Weekly transactions now over 18.5 million, up 800,000 year on year

Strategically Analysis of Sainsbury's Growth

In any organisation, the team does the work. Their performance is the organisation's performance. It is therefore, productive to get a good performance from everyone. Each person in the organisation is more complex than all the modules anyone would ever suggest.

The organisations manager needs to motivate the team as a whole and motivate each individual separately. Team motivation stems from the personal enthusiasm of the manager, how the work is allocated and structured, a clear vision of the goal and the agreed standards for getting there. The Organisation's manager sets an example with their own personal organisation and behaviour and creates a climate of progress and acceptance of change. Individual motivation is achieved through personal rapport and the 'unwritten contract' of what the individual and the organisation's manager expect from each other. A crucial ingredient of this motivation is the design of the individual's job, which must have the right amount of challenge and variety and lead towards a visible and significant end product. Everyone needs agreed objectives that tie into goals we understand, as well as personal and career development from challenging work, professional standards, feedback and coaching.[9]

The performance management evaluation in which, top management at Sainsbury's uses for both its employees and for the organisations Suppliers of its wide range of goods and products. Sainsbury's supermarkets was established in 1869 and strives to fulfil its original mission to be the first choice for food shopping for consumers by providing value for money, excellent service and quality that customers have come to expect. The company employs roughly, 145,000 people, has 535 stores and serves over 11 million customers each week.

Development Strategies in Sainsbury's:-

Most organisations have some form of formal performance management system and Sainsbury's is no exception. They vary a great deal in purpose, depth, style and degree of bureaucracy. They also vary in the benefits they bring to an organisation and the degree of respect they attract from the workforce.

In Sainsbury's the performance management system is just a component of ones continuing effort to develop a flexible workforce, able to work in a variety of situations, to contribute in many ways and with a range of skills that spans the whole of software development. Fairness is not really an issue in this case as the appraisal focuses on one person at a time.

The performance management system exists to develop staff and to assist with decisions about pay. Even if it is said, to be only about pay or promotion, you will want to use it as an opportunity to develop your staff. Staffs within organisations believe that a performance management system does affect their pay levels, even when it is said to be about other strategic factors, which is deemed as important to the organisation.

Employees Feedback:

The manager and the employee would need to review past performance, if only to set the scene for looking to the future. Raising bad points about the employee should be done with an utterly clear mind, especially when it is with regard to areas of improvement, development opportunities, or procedural notes. One approach is not to raise them at all but to ask the team member to assess personal performance using a technique called drawing out. (See Appendix-01)

Training and development plan

'I take advantage of training and development opportunities to help me improve'

Date of review

The above mentioned is the performance management evaluation method used in Sainsbury's with regard to identifying what are the most important areas for the organisation to improve.[10] (See also Appendix -02)


In a nutshell, the training and development strategy in sainsbury's is good and cost effective. The sue of performance management systems, preparation of an evaluation, what steps are taken during the evaluation meeting between the manager and employee and the interview forms, in the aspects of how it is evaluated within an organization are distinguish from other organization.

A customer complained recently that there were quite a few products she used to buy but could no longer find in store. We offered the customer an 'accompanied shop', which was booked in for the following week. Walking every aisle with the customer helped trigger queries about lines. We built up a rapport and agreed on other areas for improvement as we walked the shop floor.

Afterwards, I spoke to head office about the product queries. Some of the products we were able to re-order. For others, I got answers on why we couldn't stock them any more. Once the list was completed, I phoned the customer and let her know the outcome, with which she was delighted. This helped me to keep an affluent customer happy and retain her custom."


The 'Waitrose' name has become a byword in the UK for the highest quality, freshest produce and widest product range in-store. The challenge was to support branch ordering and customer service as effectively as possible: consistently ensure the highest product quality and availability, minimise wastage, control costs in a highly competitive retail space.[11]

Brief History:

Waitrose was setup at Acton in 1904; it was founded by Wallace Waite, Arthur Rose & David Taylor. In the year 1906 Taylor left the firm, the first shop named "Waitrose" was formed. The company was later acquired by John Lewis Partnership in the year 1937. At that time it had 10 small service food shops and had a turnover of 150000 GBP. After the acquisition, Waitrose now are specialist Supermarkets, having more than 175 supermarkets all over UK mainly in the south-eastern region. It now boasts a work-force of over 37000 employees and many new stores. They offer fresh produce, poultry, bread & meat. Waitrose is a company known for providing high and good quality products and it targets the higher class with its good and high quality products. Even though it's a comparatively smaller company than its competitors (Tesco & J.Sainsbury, Iceland), it was successful in its business and was a profit making firm, this was all because they use to perform things strategically.

Waitrose's corporate responsibility policy focuses on seven interrelated themes:

  • Climate change
  • Packaging, waste and recycling
  • Sustainable construction and regeneration
  • Ethical supply chain and management
  • Sustainable sourcing
  • Health and nutrition
  • Building sustainable communities

Employee Development program

Waitrose operates as an employee co-ownership and calls its employees 'Partners'. The employees have a say in running the business and share its profits.[12]

Strategy to Develop Skills and education

Waitrose also invests in Waitrose Education in terms of time and skills:

  • Dedicated employees run the events and workshops, and Waitrose buyers and technologists spend time supporting educational programmes and activities
  • Food buyers and technologists give around two to three days a year of their time to the educational initiatives
  • Eight partners from Leckford Estate, the Waitrose farm, give four to six days per year of their time
  • Many more partners are involved in store-focused activities and events

Company benefits

Waitrose notes that the educational initiatives help broaden its customer base, offering invaluable opportunities to influence key target customers. The key messages communicated through the programmes reach families, friends, teachers and other local organisations and groups through the children targeted by the educational activities and programmes. Among other benefits Waitrose lists are enhanced positive reputational impact.

The company acknowledges that educational initiatives provide a platform where the values of Waitrose are spoken and are delivered to schools and future customers. Through this platform, Waitrose's long-term commitment to safety, quality and provenance of its food is also demonstrated.

Employees Skills

Waitrose looks in employees that they must possess good communication skills and confident teamwork ability if they are to be considered for any sort of Waitrose job. The aptitude and resilience of working in a busy customer service based environment is important, and if they are to progress to a managerial role then they will have to live, breathe and understand the Waitrose work ethics and principles in order to make a real success of their role.[13]

Development Through Friendly Approach

Waitrose adopts a slightly different tone when referring to their staff; something that quite genuinely sets them apart from other employers. When employees work for Waitrose, they are not just an employee, they are Partners. The company is proud to use this term and it reflects their value and respect for each and every individual that comes to work for them. This familiar, friendly tone makes the day-to-day job they have to do seem particularly pleasurable. They can rest assured that they are not just going to fade into the background when they join Waitrose; they are going to be given a warm welcome and the support and encouragement they need to grow.

The benefits are varied, but all offer something to really shout about. Holiday entitlement increases depending on how long they have been working for them and there are even some tasty discount offers available to all Partners after completion of three month's service. The perks and job satisfaction of working for a company like Waitrose are quite simply unparalleled. Just take a look at the other benefits:

Pension Scheme

  • Life Assurance
  • Holiday and Leisure Facilities
  • Societies
  • Ticket and Education Subsidies
  • Health Services


In the end we can say that In development strategies, Waitrose tries to train staff by motivational theories and in investment of employee's education programmes.


Employee training and development strategy plays a vital role in success of any organization. These strategies vary from company to company. Every Company try to keep their employee happy and get success from competitors. They tries to get unique and different skills in employees, so that they can produce innovative products and get competitive advantages from its competitors. As in above lines a brief comparison has been discussed of training and development strategies in Tesco, Sainsbury's and Waitrose, all companies following a different plan/procedure and achieving its goals and objectives.


  • IT Week, (07/03/2005), Sainsbury's admits IT systems are flawed and goes back to manual systems.
  • How Sainsbury's transformed its Supply chain, Supply Chain management review, (May 7, 2004).
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  • Howard, P., (July 23, 2004), Paying lip service to performance management,, (July 23, 2004).
  • Branch Personnel Manager at Sainsbury's Local store (Hertfordshire).


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  • Ibid., passim.
  • Moore, Mark H., Creating Public Value: Strategic Management in Government, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995
  5. Michael Porter proposed the theory in 1990
  6. (Christensen and Fahey 1984, Kay 1994, Porter 1980 cited by Chacarbaghi and Lynch 1999, p.45)
  10. Cadle, J., and Donald, Y., (2001), Project management for Information systems. 3rd edition, Financial Times, Prentice Hall.
  11. Turban, E., McLean, E., and Wetherbe, J., (2002), Information Technology for Management, Transforming Business in the digital economy, 3rd edition. Wiley.

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