Max Brenner Collapse

The Max Brenner collapse is the latest casualty of disruption here in Australia. Administrators were appointed on Sunday to examine the fate of 37 stores in Australia and 600 employees are now in danger of losing their jobs.

So why the collapse?

Officially, it was the lodgement of a “Wind-up Notice” to recover debts, from Queensland plastering company – Sunstate Ceilings Pty Ltd.

But beneath the legal conditions of the collapse lies the usual story of rising costs and sluggish retail trade.

A Failure to Think like an Entrepreneur

We’ve heard this story time and time again and what it boils down to is a failure to embrace Entrepreneurial Thinking to acknowledge a changing operating environment and a lack of strategic measures to bulletproof the business.

In other words, a business continues to think that their offering is good enough for customers to keep coming in to spend money – because that’s what has always happened in the past.

What’s interesting to note about this particular Casualty of Disruption is that the owners appeared in BRW Magazine’s Young Rich List in 2013 with a fortune of $40 Million. Technically they were considered “Entrepreneurs” by society, so why did they not think like them?

Entrepreneurship Isn’t Just About Business

It’s a myth that Entrepreneurship is just about starting a business and making money. Too often we mislabel people who start a business as Entrepreneurs. The true meaning of Entrepreneurship is about the larger concept of transforming ideas into outcomes. Here in Australia, it appears that Max Brenner never got that memo.

Entrepreneurial Thinking could have been used by the Australian division of the company to put the customer first, empower their employees to come up with innovative solutions to solve problems and experiment with new ideas to ensure the business grew along with the discerning tastes of its customers.

But sadly none of that appears to have been done. Hence 600 people are now getting their resumes together.

Exposure to New Ideas is Crucial

One of the tests I use to determine how “switched on” a company is, is their online presence. At the time of writing this article, Max Brenner’s Australian division only has 71 out of their 600 employees on LinkedIN. None of these people are in key leadership positions within the organisation.

With LinkedIN being the largest professional network online, to me this indicates a lack of a growth mindset within the corporate culture. This doesn’t mean they had no desire to grow the business – just the opposite actually, as they were planning on opening up six new stories. A lack of a growth mindset, in this case, means they were reluctant to expose themselves to new ideas and build strategic relationships for business survival – a problem that could have been fixed years ago, even offline.

Lessons for Other Retailers

The Max Brenner collapse, like many other failed retailers, is a story of the dangers of the Australian “She’ll be right!” mentality.

No she won’t.

The world is changing at rapid rate and unless organisations adapt to this change by embracing an Entrepreneurial Mindset, they will inevitably become another casualty of disruption.

In The Age of Disruption, HOW you think is more important than what you think.

Stop the madness. Think like an Entrepreneur.


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AJ Kulatunga is a keynote speaker who inspires conversations around Disruption, The Changing World and Entrepreneurial Thinking to help Leaders navigate change. See AJ Speak