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Waikato business students have big ideas for fashion company

14 October, 2016

Waikato business students have big ideas for Kiwi fashion company

The fashion industry is highly competitive, with rapidly evolving fashion trends and technologies.

In Waikato Management School’s 41st Case Competition, students locked horns in a fierce battle to develop the best growth strategy for Annah Stretton, founder of Stretton Group; one of the most successful fashion companies in New Zealand.

The students were asked what the future could look like for Annah Stretton and her business, Stretton Clothing. Some of the questions they faced were: how could Stretton Clothing thrive as it moved forward in an increasingly digital and global market, and should the Stretton Foundation stop at its Reclaim Another Woman (RAW) initiative which matches mentors with women who have been victims of domestic violence, or look for other opportunities to help?

In the competition final on Wednesday night, four teams of students were given 10 minutes to present their recommended strategies to a large audience, before facing a grilling from the judges who asked a few tricky questions to probe the finer details of their plans for Stretton Group.

The panel of judges chose team PESTE Control as the winners of the case competition. The winning team consisted of Bachelor of Management Studies students Sam Corban, Hannah Raos, Emily Welburn and Alexander Dowie.

Their three-phase strategy for Stretton Group focused on a new website that would create ‘the best online shopping experience in New Zealand’, including an online personal styling service; launching a new ‘Navy’ fashion brand targeted at time-poor business women; and holding a glitzy ‘Navy Blues’ annual fashion show in four cities to raise positive publicity and money for the Stretton charitable foundation.

Sam Corban says spending time with Annah Stretton in the run-up to the competition was valuable. “Seeing how passionate Annah was about her foundation just captured all of us, so we ensured the Stretton Foundation was a key part of our strategy.”

Ms Stretton says she enjoyed her experience working with the students at Waikato Management School. “It’s great to work with such highly engaged people. I hope all the students have taken something from this experience whether it’s the practicality of problem solving or identifying new growth opportunities.”

The team has proven that students don’t necessarily need a financial background to develop a feasible growth strategy, says Emily Welburn. “As long as you create a plan and stick to it, do the research, listen to the client and talk to the people around you for help, you’ll stand in good stead for the competition.”

PESTE Control received a $2500 prize from competition sponsor PWC. The team members each have their own plans for spending their prize money; Corban will put his share towards his internship in Australia for six weeks; Raos plans to going skydiving in Queenstown, Welburn may do an Outward Bound course to develop her leadership skills; and Dowie will spend $150 on food for his flatmates.

Some of the top students from the competition will be selected for a team to represent the University of Waikato at national case competitions, where they can test themselves against the best strategic minds in New Zealand.

This year's judging panel included Vanya Wallis, the winner of Waikato Management School’s first Case Competition in 1996, and now client services manager at Mayston Partners Ltd. The other judges were Emma Jones, director at PWC; and Professor Deborah Willis, acting dean of Waikato Management School.

The judges were extremely impressed by the students’ fantastic ideas, which covered the spectrum of business disciplines, and the outstanding quality of their presentations.

The other three teams taking part in the case competition were Team Trump, The 3-9 Wonders, and DT Consulting.

Background notes:

• The Waikato Management School Case Competition is part of the coursework for the strategic management paper STMG391; the capstone paper in the Bachelor of Management Studies degree.

• The competition began in 1996 and is held twice a year. It gives students an opportunity to act as 'management consultants' and apply all the business theories they've learned in class to a real New Zealand company.

• In the first round of the competition, 18 teams of strategic management students were given a deadline of just two weeks to analyse the case. They had the opportunity to ask Annah Stretton in-person questions regarding the case. The students then had to write a report on how they plan to increase Stretton Clothing’s revenue and profits in an increasingly digital and global market, and present their group strategies at an event called 'Super Friday'. The four best teams then went through to the finals of the Case Competition.

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