- One used it, and became a hero.
- The other didn’t, and was replaced.
The story covers the period between Fall 2015 and Spring 2019.
One CEO, Bernardo Hees, of Kraft-Heinz, relied solely on cutting costs, using one of its more extreme forms, zero-based budgeting. This resulted in the neglect of customers; sizable layoffs, which drained energy from the staff; and insufficient attention to marketing, hurting top-line growth.
By contrast, during that same period, Best Buy, led by Hubert Joly, substantially lifted the company’s value by using a broader set of ways to boost results. He found, and harnessed, Best Buy’s most appropriate upside elements. Among them:
- Its customer experience and value proposition (the ability for in-store customers to see, touch, and use the products Best Buy sells; to pick up online orders; to get help from knowledgeable, attentive staff; and to get in-store repairs and technical support).
- Its pricing (a price-matching guarantee).
- Yes, its costs (supply chain, warehousing, real estate).
- Its opportunities (free in-home tech consultations, tech-support contracts, including one designed for older adults).
- A store-within-store arrangement where major vendors can showcase their products, drawing customers while lifting Best Buy’s sales.
The graph below shows what happened to the two companies’ enterprise value (the money needed to buy all of the stock and pay off all of the debt) during their CEO’s common tenure.
As mentioned, Mr. Hees was replaced.
Lesson: Find and use all of the applicable elements of your upside to boost your results.
Our book, The Upside Within Reach, will guide you.
The supporting material below is from the book’s Introduction’s references…
- Annie Gasparo and Vipal Monga, “3G Capital, Once a Disrupter, Is Reeling,” The Wall Street Journal, February 23-24, 2019, pp A1, A12.
- Annie Gasparo, “Kraft Heinz’s Promise Turns Sour,” The Wall Street Journal, February 23-24, 2019, B3.
- Aaron Back and Carol Ryan, “The Lessons from Kraft’s Sudden Fall,” The Wall Street Journal, February 23-24, 2019, B12.
- Julie Creswell and David Yaffe-Bellany, “How 2 Great Brands Merged Into a Mess,” The New York Times, September 24, 2019, B1, B4.
- Kevin Roose, “Best Buy’s Secrets for Thriving in the Age of Amazon,” The New York Times, September 19, 2017, B1–2.
Mr. Hees, of Brazil’s 3G Capital, was appointed CEO of Heinz on March 24, 2015, and on March 25, 2015, Heinz announced its agreement to merge with Kraft Foods, with Mr. Hees to serve as its CEO. The merger closed on July 2, 2015. Mr. Hees’ tenure as CEO ended on April 22, 2019.
The comparison above is based on the quarterly periods ending on September 30, 2015 (Kraft-Heinz’ first reported quarterly results after the two companies merged) and March 31, 2019.
Yahoo Finance, which notes that its data is derived from multiple sources, or they calculate it themselves, and the Kraft Heinz website.