Andi Spies
Author:
Andi Spies

Change Management of the Oldest Outdoor Brand in the World

How Schöffel Is Making the Digital Change

How does the oldest outdoor company in the world manage digital transformation? ISPO.com talked to Peter Schöffel the owner and managing director of Schöffel about the reorientation of his company.

"The focus is on the employee." Product design at Schöffel.
"The focus is on the employee." Product design at Schöffel.

Looking back at the past eight years the strategic development of the Schöffel brand can be divided into three major phases. In the first phase from 2012 to 2015 the focus was on offensive brand awareness. Together with the established advertising agency Ogilvy, they developed the claim "I'm out" and launched a broad-based TV campaign.

"I'm out has totally excited us all from the beginning, because it's more than just a claim it fits the spirit of the time. It is an attitude that has helped us to develop our corporate culture," says Managing Director Peter Schöffel. He explains, "The claim is based on the idea that we are all becoming more and more driven by our tight schedules. We must constantly deliver performance, be accessible and live by the motto "faster, higher, further".

Schöffel is exhibiting at the ISPO Munich in Hall A1.

The Claim Is Followed by a Look Inside

The TV campaign was successfully played out in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The brand awareness and desirability grew. But the expected effect of the products finding their way into customers' shopping bags did not materialize.

"The advertising worked properly, but the return was ultimately not optimal, because the wastage was simply too high. Our learning in 2015 was to adapt our basic organizational structure with regard to IT systems and customer service. We had to realign our management and all processes in order to really take the decisive next step," explains Peter Schöffel.

Successful Change Process in the Company

From 2015 to 2018, the second development phase followed with the realignment of the company's organisation and the modernisation of processes. Now the structural and organisational preparations had to be made to make the company fit for the future and to give it a modern orientation.

"This upheaval has cost us a lot of strength, time and energy. In retrospect, it was sometimes an annoying process, because organizational changes and the establishment of new IT structures are very time-consuming. You park your company on the hard shoulder for almost a year," reports Peter Schöffel and adds: "But by the end of 2018 we were ready for an offensive on the market and in terms of modernity we no longer had to hide from anyone."

Modern working environment for agile processes.
Modern working environment for agile processes.

Family Background as a Bonus for Retail

The third phase of the realignment of Schöffel began at the beginning of 2019. All organisational structures were established to the extent and the focus could be increasingly directed towards the customer and his needs. The fact that his company is still a family-run business in the seventh generation is a luxury for Managing Director Peter Schöffel.

"We are not "shareholder-driven" and therefore do not have to deliver double-digit growth rates quarter after quarter. This gives us the opportunity to put people at the centre and build something big. This has always been Schöffel's approach, and we have seen that there are a number of similarly minded retailers who, as a family-run company, attach importance to reliable partnerships with brands such as Schöffel".

"A Completely Different Approach, Which Leads to Chaos in the First Place"

According to Peter Schöffel, the company was able to achieve the successful change process primarily through the driving roles of the corporate organization and human resources departments. This was accompanied by a renewal of the top management, which was introduced to the new challenges of flat hierarchies and modern work structures through targeted external coaching.

"In order to get there, we pretty much destroyed the hierarchy in the company. Of course there are still decision-making processes and in the end someone has to take the rap. But the hierarchy is not target-oriented, especially in the customer-centric way of working," explains Peter Schöffel and adds, "Ultimately, it is a process in which we all learn faster together and can therefore react more quickly to the changing requirements of the customers. This is a completely different approach, which leads to chaos in the first place."

Part of the new management team at Schöffel (from left to right): Peter Schöffel (Managing Director), Reiner Gerstner (Marketing), Stefan Merkt (Sales), Peter Sontheimer (Product)
Part of the new management team at Schöffel (from left to right): Peter Schöffel (Managing Director), Reiner Gerstner (Marketing), Stefan Merkt (Sales), Peter Sontheimer (Product)

New Company Management With Seven Executives

The stronger focus on the market and the customer required additional personnel, as the good brand awareness was to be translated into growth even more than before. Peter Schöffel is proud of his agile management team, in which hierarchies have been pushed into the background. In addition to Peter Schöffel and Felix Geiger, the current Schöffel management team consists of Hildrun Brendler (Human Resources), Stefan Merkt (Sales), Reiner Gerstner (Marketing), Peter Sontheimer (Product), Georg Kaiser (Procurement & Logistics), Albrecht Habsburg (Commercial Management) and Jan Hülbig (Organisation & IT).

While the personnel and structural changes are not obvious to the customer, the new 2020 collection clearly shows the new signature of product designer Peter Sontheimer and his team. "In the past, our products were too interchangeable for me. Now we will be going our own way more strongly, because the market needs products that are completely unique," says Peter Schöffel, explaining his vision. In the development of new products that meet these requirements, Peter Sontheimer works closely with Henrik Vogel, who joined the company over two years ago as Innovation Manager.

Headwind From Own Ranks

The modernization of the company has demanded a lot from its employees and cost a lot of energy. For Peter Schöffel it was a strenuous and at the same time instructive process. Together with his management team, he also had to withstand a lot of headwind within his own ranks during the various phases of the upheaval.

Without the technologies available in the company and the valuable know-how of the individual employees, the extensive realignment with the implementation of the new structures in recent years would not have been possible. Now the traditional company from Bavaria is well positioned all around and ready to take on the future challenges of the market.

Get in touch with Schöffel at the ISPO Munich.

Andi Spies
Author:
Andi Spies
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