Business Strategy

Change management and HR project to move manufacturing plant to Asia

The challenge

An international manufacturer of luxury goods was moving most of its production to Asia. They needed help to educate the employees at the new site, re-educate current employees in the country to new roles and help the employees leaving the company into a new work life.

As part of this big change management project, they also wished to give their mid-level leaders a greater knowledge of psychological personality types so they could better lead and motivate employees. We had to find the right tool for this company to perform personal, team and 360 analysis, conduct the tests and provide feedback.

What we did

Torben Soelvsteen worked with the company for a just over a year at their site locally and in Asia. Facilitating the change process with management, employees, unions and different educational providers.

At the new site, he assessed the skills needed and helped pick and train trainers. This included those both the new and old production site giving so they had the skills needed to educate the new employees in Asia.

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Torben conducted leadership coaching and training to help the new management on its way at the new plant and to develop management at the old site.

At the old factory, he helped retrain staff and did DISC profiles and team profiles. He provided feedback on these and had coaching talks with the employees who were staying at the original site. After conducting the profile analysis Torben provided council to redundant employees and helped them progress to their next employer by assisting them with their resumes, finding new careers, educations and jobs.

Torben conducted DISC profiles and 360 analysis with the leadership group and held courses in understanding, motivating and leading with a focus on different personality types.

The project overall helped revitalise the LEAN thinking and understanding.

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The results

  • The company moved production from Denmark to Asia and became profitable 25% quicker than expected.

  • Production became more LEAN and efficient and had less product and human error faults than expected.

  • The employees and leaders who stayed at the existing plant became more efficient and satisfied with their work.

Torben has much experience in international business. He is competent, knowledgeable and understands how to get the best outcomes for organisations while being a strong leader among staff. He comes with my highest recommendation.
— Daniel Spencer, International Trade Professional (Danish & Irish Government)

Exceeded sales budgets for 6 years in a row through staff education and training

The challenge

A national company who is part of an international optician chain wanted to attract and keep both customers and employees and become the employer of choice in the category.  The end goal was to improve the overall customer experiences and increase sales.

What we did

Torben Soelvsteen worked with the company in-house reporting directly to the CEO, working alongside the directors and over 200 retail store managers.

He started off by looking at the company’s current situation, completing competitor analysis and reviewing market trends around the world.

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The customer journey and employee journey from attraction, recruitment to education was a high focus. Torben collaboratively created a new customer journey process focusing on excellent service and what created value for the customers. Through this new journey, the company created experiences and value for its customers where it showed its knowledge in the optician field combined with its high focus on its customers creating more return customers and prevent churn.

The new focus was on the customer with a more holistic view thinking customer needs, value and experience together with glasses, sunglasses and contact lenses.

After creating this he helped to roll this customer journey out and educate store managers and employees across the country.

Alongside this, he helped the company create a whole new staff education and training program together with their HR department. The new program included an introduction day for new interns, an on-boarding process, sales and service training, product knowledge and ‘storytelling’ as well as a whole new leadership education program for the store managers.

In the beginning, Torben ran the courses and educated the internal trainers. Following this the training programs were adopted internally and run by the relevant company departments in person, or as web-based learning.


The results

  • The company became the country's market-leading optician chain and exceeded its sales budget for 6 years in a row.

  • It became the employer of choice in its field attracting the best and brightest recruits, making them able to recruit +80 % of is talent and leaders from inside the company.

  • The new education and training program meant they scored higher in workplace satisfaction surveys and were able to retain employees for longer.

Torben is a professional business leader with a clear vision of driving profitable revenue growth within organisations. He understands that a sustainable business model starts with excellence in customer service and product presentation.
— Tony Ward, former Head of Retail Performance

Creation of a nationally recognised retail degree funded by the EU

The challenge

Several companies including The Body Shop, Peugeot and Toys R Us within the retail industry expressed the need for better staff education and the ability to attract quality recruits. This they believed would improve their ability to compete on an international level.  

Many companies who are based in Denmark develop their own training and education programs. The issue was training recognition did not transfer to other companies or industries or were approved as a tertiary level education qualification.

The inability to offer recognised training programs made it hard to attract great employees and recruit to and across the retail industry. We also recognised there was a lack of knowledge across the industry including the areas of leadership, finance and general business skills.

Best practices and learnings from the national and international retail industry were not shared or incorporated into a common education program. This created a less competitive internationally industry.

What we did

As a consultants working with and representing multiple major retail companies, Torben and his team contacted the possible project sponsors. We secured a deal with the national chamber of commerce and two university business schools.

We set up a stakeholder group involving people from 20 of the biggest retail and FMCG chains in Denmark to get their input to create and agree upon a course overview.

Following this, we applied for and secured funding from the European Union and to develop and run a Bachelor of Commerce level education for 2 years.

Given Torben’s experience as a teacher and lecturer and working in the retail industry, he worked with stakeholders to create the course content for group approval.

Proud and successful graduate, Jesper Paarup Bilcher.

Proud and successful graduate, Jesper Paarup Bilcher.

When Jesper embarked on the retail academy education he was a store manager. Eighteen months later, he was promoted to a district manager with responsibility for more than 200 employees in the DIY retail chain. This big step up the career ladder he attributes to the completion of this degree in commerce.
— Jesper Paarup Blicher, District Manager, JEM & FIX

Torben and the team developed content for these areas of study:

  • Concepts and concept management

  • Technological development

  • Personal development

  • Situational leadership

  • Sales Management

  • Resource and storage management

  • Finance management

  • Store analysis and optimisation of operations

  • Attracting, hiring, retaining, developing and retrenchment of employees.

The new education program was approved by the national education department and recognised as a Bachelor of Commerce with a major in Retail. Previously, only majors in Leadership and Human Resource were available.

The education consists of 6 modules, intended to be completed over a 3-year period. The degree is now recognised all across Europe (part of the European Credit Transfer System).

Once the degree was developed, we undertook the task of selling it to companies within the retail and FMCG industry. The target participants included store managers, franchisees, department heads and warehouse managers.


The results

  • The Degree in Commerce (Retail) delivered by Kea Business Academy in Denmark was the first education with European Union funding that was able to fully self-funding and sustainable itself after only one year.

  • Two different companies, one in the hardware industry and one in fast-food, have measured the effects of their store managers participating in this education and found that store managers who have participated in this education have a better bottom line and a smaller turnover of staff compared to no participants.  

  • The education program has now existed for 8 years and companies including McDonald's choose to use and offer this course to employees every year.

  • An external research company measured the effects of the education program and reported a higher level of students recalled the acquired knowledge one year after completion.

The retail academy education and its results are innovative and has developed new educational offerings for the industry. Torben and his team recognised the structure and organisation of the industry and developed training offerings delivered above and beyond the existing vocational training modules.
— Gorm Johansen, Danish Chamber of Commerce