A Danish Winery in Bordeaux: Storytelling - Strategizing

Charlotte Bender

Student thesis: Master thesis


Traditional strategic planning tools have contested emergent perspectives on strategy for decades, focussing on capacity and suitability to explain strategic success. In acknowledgement of their shared dynamics, attempts to bridge the two views have evolved, Rakesh Sondhis’ Total Strategy being an example. Sondhi applies the traditional method of balancing internal strengths and weaknesses with external opportunities and threats (SWOT), but combines it with creativity, learning and continuous adjustment of strategy in a holistic loop process. This study applies Total Strategy to propose how a small winery can balance the three strategic imperatives of objectives, resources and competitive environment. To do so, theory on wine consumer behaviour complements as theoretical foundation to map the factors accounting for purchase decisions.
Chateau Gourran is a Danish owned winery situated in Bordeaux, France. Tine and Peter Find Andersen bought the chateau in 2007 and initiated wine production at the facility. Today, the yearly production reaches 45,000 bottles of four varieties, primarily sold through ten Danish supermarkets. But the business of CG has not reached a sustainable and self-reliant state, why Tine and Peter need to engage in rigorous sales work. The purpose of this study is to find a solution to this situation, by conducting a single case study analysis. Through interviews with actors from CG, industry experts and focus groups, constructivist insights to root problems and solution options were sketched. Inserting the data into a theoretical framework resulted in a new perspective that made it possible to propose a viable strategy and implementation plan.
Three key SWOT issues appeared. First, as a result of globalization, CG faces tough competition from New World wines in retail sales. Second, CG does not utilize its force as a small winery, but could reposition its brand to a potentially loyal customer niche. Third, CG lacks mercantile and relational resources, which calls for Peters’ openness to reconfigure the organization. Sondhi’s alignment of strategic elements guided the strategic design. Six specific objectives were defined, and CG was advised to engage customers with experiences and stories in a detailed wine marketing mix. A hybrid strategic model applicable to CG was recommended as a knowledge-based process balancing planning and adaption. This was complemented with a specific action plan and a guiding strategic philosophy. Solving the business problem for CG highlighted the benefits of balanced, holistic strategizing. Managers’ personal motivation for being in business was indicated to be a key to understand reluctance to planning in small enterprises. In addition, changing environmental conditions and consumer demands calls for a critical, reflexive view on planning tools and their focus on growth and profit as success parameters.

EducationsMSc in Strategy, Organization and Leadership, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2017
Number of pages149