Otto UK (Freeman Grattan Holdings)

“What started as a consulting brief focused on growth quickly turned into a turnaround-focused restructuring assignment.”

With over €12 billion turnover through over 120 multi-channel retail brands, Otto is one of the very largest online retail operators globally.

Otto acquired a number of retail catalogue brands in the UK in 1999, including Freemans and Grattans, long established catalogues with strong credit businesses supporting their product proposition.

With the rapid growth of internet selling following the millennium leading to significantly increased competition online, coupled with new discount clothing chains with global supply chains, and readily available credit on payment cards, the traditional catalogue retailing model became rapidly outdated.

I was engaged in 2008 & 2009 to advise on 2 aspects:

  1. Review the online technology capabilities and carry out a selection process for its replacement with a scalable package solution, and
  2. Develop a target operating model for the business suitable for an online-focus rather than paper catalogue focused proposition.

What started as a growth-enabling ambition quickly turned into a cost-reduction and turnaround-focused ambition as the severity of the businesses situation became clear.

My work continued for almost 2 years during which we architected, designed and delivered significant business transformation, radically stripping cost and complexity from the business and focusing it on its core online channel operations.

This involved:

  • Organisational design & change delivery at all levels and most functions of the business, with our specific focus on IT operations, contact centres, warehousing, printing, creative services and online management
  • Outsource and contract re-negotiations across multiple services
  • Technology re-platforming, including mainframe to mid-range platforms
  • New system implementations including Microsoft ERP and new web technologies

Whilst a disruptive and difficult intervention, the business survived and was nursed back to health – from major annual losses and decline to profitability and growth.