Stories and Strategies from Real Life: 1/9/15

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Some of the best learning happens when you read stories about real people and real companies. Read them for ideas, for lessons, and inspiration. This week’s stories and strategies from real life are about Galeria Kaufhof, Michael Jeffries, Wasslers, Little Pete’s, and Timberland

From Wharton: How One German Retailer Is Adapting to the Digital Era

“Germany’s retail sector is becoming ‘much more intense and complex,’ Lovro Mandac, chairman of Galeria Kaufhof, told an audience of students during a recent talk at Wharton. And that’s making it difficult to achieve growth at the country’s largest department store chain. ‘If we don’t change, we will be out of the market.'”

From Robin Lewis: Michael Jeffries – A&F Genius Rides Into The Sunset

“That was Jeffries’ Achilles heel. He drifted older along with his original young customers. He kept his focus on his aging customers without looking over his shoulder at their younger siblings, most of whom wouldn’t be caught dead wearing their older brothers’ and sisters’ brand. This positioning drift blindsided Jeffries. In my opinion, even if he had foreseen the need to pivot to the next generation, Jeffries would not have been able to successfully reposition the brand.”

From Kurt Backscheider: Wasslers continue 120-year-old family business

“Ken and Dave Wassler aren’t the types who groan about getting up and going to work. It’s quite the opposite for the two brothers – they love what they do”

From Maria Panaritis: Requiem for a Center City diner

“Little Pete’s has not yet fallen to the wrecking ball, but mourning has begun for one of Philadelphia’s last all-night diners, a throwback that has said, ‘No thank you,’ to the fancy-food revolution of a downtown gone upscale.”

Wally’s Comment: There’s a special place in my heart for diners like Little Pete’s. My Aunt Dot worked as a cook in several of them in Philadelphia over several decades. And in my years of working with police departments in dozens of cities, I grew to love those all-night diners that offered coffee, food, and some companionship to anyone who walked in. They’re also the subject of Edward Hoppers famous painting: “Nighthawks.

From Sarah Halzack: How Timberland used customer data to reboot its brand

“There are few shoes more recognizable than the Timberland yellow boot. You know the one: The high-top styling, the sturdy-looking nubuck leather, the rubber lug sole to protect feet from sheets of rain or piles of snow.”

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