Following the presentation by Vestas, the class of BSM Scandinavia 2015 were further treated to an invigorating presentation by Mrs Anne Trads Juel Sauerberg, Director & Founder of Asian retail specialist, Norbreeze Group.
Mrs Sauerberg began with a couple of questions to gain an understanding of the class’ knowledge of common business strategies and terminologies before proceeding to briefly explain the timeline leading up to the company’s founding in 2004. . Co-owned and co-managed with her husband, Mr Anders Peter Juel Sauerberg, Norbreeze Group is characterized by a deep passion for Danish design. Such contributed to the establishment of the company into what it is today with a clear goal and aim to distribute, market and build international accessible luxury brands that share a similar design philosophy of timeless allure and consistent pursuit of functionalism and quality.
Upon ensuring that we were well exposed to the core values and competencies that Norbreeze group abides by, Mrs Sauerberg then discussed the vital role that consumers play as stakeholders within the Norbreeze business model. Being a retail company, where the bulk of its revenue stream comes from buyers of its products, Mrs Sauerberg pointed out that achieving a strong customer base was essential for maintaining a healthy financial bottom-line for the company. Additionally, keeping customers happy with quality goods and service ensures positive word-of-mouth marketing for Norbreeze’s products. However, such success does not come easy and would not happen without the many standard operating procedures that Norbreeze has set in place to achieve the greatest satisfaction possible for its customers.
Mrs Sauerberg reminisced how in the beginning days of Norbreeze her numerous meetings with potential clients and customers taught her humility. Despite setbacks, she persevered by choosing to celebrate successes and not harping on failures. She gained valuable life lessons that she constantly keeps in mind even today.
Moving forward, Mrs Sauerberg then briefly explained Norbreeze Groups’s five pillars that assist it to achieve continuity and sustainable growth within the market. These pillars have allowed it to highly differentiate itself from copycats and imitators.
First of the five pillars, Mrs Sauerberg explained the importance of selecting attractive brands and ultimately becoming a custodian for the brand – promoting, living and breathing the brand’s values. Notably, Norbreeze only selects brands categorized as “accessible luxury”, to remain relevant and affordable enough for the masses, a major market that has been its target group from the beginning. This criterion remains core to Norbreeze’s business model due to the highly competitive watch and jewelry market within Singapore and the surrounding Asian region.
Next, Norbreeze’s acceptance as a trusted partner, an important milestone to be achieved, allows the company to fully complement its partners and achieve the intended goals that both have. Through responsible promotion of its partners’ values, Norbreeze becomes a custodian for the brands. Staff involved in a partner’s brand have to immerse themselves in the brand and know its story.
Upon gaining the desired level of trust, Norbreeze manages and executes a variety of complex retail operations for its partners. Mrs Sauerberg was relatively discreet as to how Norbreeze carries out its business operations but assured the class that development and bringing of a partner’s brand to market successfully was the last piece of the puzzle that Norbreeze performs as part of its five pillars.
Mrs Sauerberg then spoke of Norbreeze’s 3 Ss; Strong People, Strong Operations, and a Strong Corporate Culture that touches upon aspects of the company’s internal corporate culture, which not many know about. Quoting various academic papers, Mrs Sauerberg stated that many companies now realize the value of investing in their own employees, resulting in the provision of numerous in-house training and benefits. With a dedicated team of more than 250 employees, Norbreeze knows that it has to excel in this in order to remain attractive to the best employees.
Mrs Sauerberg then explained how investing in employees contributes towards growth ands allows Norbreeze to provide its customers a better service level. By investing most of its cash flow internally, Norbreeze could provide for a desired service level resulting in an entirely new dedicated department – the Sales Training Team, in 2013. Such commitment towards the people within the company had unexpected further positive effects – a reduction in employee turnover rates.
Being careful not to let any trade secrets out, Mrs Sauerberg shared with us with Norbreeze’s operational model: the best form of service level is selected from a plethora of tried and tested ones, then applied across all brands to ensure consistency among staff members while not shortchanging any of its partners. Ms Sauerberg was adamant that despite the possibility of competitors modeling their businesses closely to Norbreeze, it was the company’s corporate culture that would be the hardest to copy. Norbreeze’s strong corporate culture ensured that it remains an asset in stimulating further growth as well as ensuring the company’s place in the coming future.
Before closing the session, Ms Sauerberg spoke of Norbreeze’s vision to be partnered with at least 12 brands by 2020 – breezing through as always.