STEEPLE ANALYSIS OF THE UNITED KINGDOM’S SUPERMARKET SECTOR Introduction The STEEPLE model identifies an organization’s key external drivers of strategy, based on the listing and categorizing of external factors which impact the business. A firm’s environment consists of the general environment also known as societal, macro or far environment; and the task environment also termed as specific, micro or near environment…
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In the second part, two examples of human resource management (HRM) in the supermarket sector will be presented, to demonstrate human resource (HR) professionals’ responses to changes in the environmental contexts. Part 1: STEEPLE Analysis of the United Kingdom’s Supermarket Sector STEEPLE is a valuable instrument facilitating the use of appropriate strategy and practices by Human Resource professionals and senior managers, in response to the changing external circumstances impacting organisations. Environmental analysis is considered as the key element in strategic analysis for corporate planning. Several of the external variables identified by the STEEPLE analysis, will present opportuniites, while many will pose threats. Hence, it is necessary to “distil out of the complexity the key environmental impacts for the purposes of strategic choice” (Kew and Stredwick, 2005, p.205). Strategic choice involves the creation and evaluation of strategic options, and the logical or political selection of strategy, to effectively manage the key drivers of external forces, with a focus on the microeconomic environment. STEEPLE Linkages with UK Supermarket Sector Leading supermarket chains Marks & Spencer and Waitrose founded in 1884 and 1904 respectively, are among the highly successful retail businesses, which have changed organisational strategies with shifts in external drivers related to the STEEPLE concept. Similarly, the four biggest chains in the UK: Tesco, ASDA, Sainsbury and Morrison’s also deal with the same external forces as the smaller retail chains across the country. Among the STEEPLE external forces, changes in Sociocultural factors affects United Kingdom’s supermarkets, with changing demographics found in greater ethnic diversity, and increasing percentage of the elderly population (Datamonitor, 2009), as well as greater health consciousness, product awareness, selectivity and austerity among people. Similarly, technological advancements in information and communication support the provision of greater reach (Meneely, Burns and Strugnell, 2009; SAS, 2012), and more efficient service. For example, ASDA Supermarket’s online evolution has led to its highly successful ASDA@Home Website (Khosrowpour, 2006). While consumers acquire increasing power through access to information and the availability of greater choices, retailers’ power declines. “New technology fuels rise in m-commerce by all age groups and empowers voice of the consumer” (SAS, 2012, p.3). Bryan (2004) reiterates that there is increasing competition for gaining customer loyalty among manufacturers, suppliers and retailers. Waitrose has acquired tremendous customer support due to its minimizing the environmental impacts of its business, while maximizing economic outcomes such as “better prices for suppliers, better value for consumers” (Warrier, 2010, p.31), as well as social effects such as better conditions and wages. According to Farnham (2010), the economic factors that impact UK supermarkets relate mainly to the microeconomic environment including the product market, the competitive structure and nature of competition. Fair-traded products are preferred by the increasingly well-informed clientele. These are “
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........................................................................................... The importance of consumer influence................................................................ Competition commission recognition.............................
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