Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 June 2012
“This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”Sir Winston Churchill
As he prepared to present the 2006/7 financial results, Henrik Theilbjørn, CEO of the international brand retailer IC Companys, recalled the course of events that had resulted in his appointment to that position in December 2004, following two years as CFO. IC Companys had been established through the merger of two Danish companies, InWear Group and Carli Gry International, in April 2001. Mediocre economic performance in the years following the merger had resulted in a poor working climate and inadequate management capacity. Frustration was widespread. The problems were further exacerbated by tensions among the main shareholders of the company. In his six years with the company, Theilbjørn had watched the situation unfold.
From a revenue perspective, the merger was an “organizational blunder” that had caused substantial annual losses despite the benefits of economies of scale and the elimination of more than 400 redundant employees. The most demotivating factor was, perhaps, the management paralysis that led key people to resign. It was at this moment that a key shareholder and founder of InWear Group, Niels Martinsen, called for an extraordinary general meeting with the sole purpose of installing a new management team. For Theilbjørn, this marked the starting point of a challenging journey to first turn the company around and then unleash the company’s growth potential: “We have accomplished the turnaround and are experiencing growth in the majority of our brands and markets. There is a tremendous potential in IC Companys and I look forward to being part of unleashing that potential in the future” (interview with Henrik Theilbjørn, February 1, 2008).
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