In a low volume, high margin business any change in demand can have a devastating effect. This was the plight of Rolls Royce and Bentley Motors when the first Gulf War and the ensuing oil crisis of the early nineties led to a slump in sales. The company had to cut its skilled workforce by over half while simultaneously finding and working out how to supply new markets.

The company had to cut its skilled workforce by over half

Steve Whatmore, World-wide Commercial Director, was recalled to home base to manage a restructuring programme to enable the company to establish, develop and, despite drastic downsizing, supply a new, lifesaving, customer base for these global brands. It took brave and completely innovative thinking to come up with the solution. There was global demand for a more interesting value added take on the traditional product with new features such as armouring, stretching and sporting cues for example. But, even at the money no object prices such vehicles could command, this was not an easy path to salvation.


The company needed to produce a new range of cars and these new features helped to maintain market focus whilst this objective was pursued. A different type of product would need a much reduced workforce, with its traditional skills, to buy into non traditional ways of working. There would need to be changes in the supply chain, for example a wider dealer network. Significant numbers of orders for these special cars provided a means of financially providing for the new range but presented huge people resource problems.

Stepping into this gap between demand and supply came Eddie Obeng of Pentacle, an ex-Ashridge Business School Director with a new take on managing change, a set of innovative project management methods and an impressive success record in helping companies find their own solutions to challenging change situations.


Steve Whatmore explains, "We knew where we wanted to go. The demand was there but the skills and the development cash were lacking. We knew we needed to take the remaining workforce with us to deliver but they were confused and unsure of this new world. We had had to lose some excellent people and those who remained were naturally looking at their likely career prospects. We had been a very traditionally run company and people were wondering 'who’s my boss now', 'where’s my bonus' and 'what’s my career path'."

A new direction was given by cutting the daunting change management problem into more manageable chunks.

Whatmore adds, "Eddie Obeng’s experience was invaluable in setting the scene with individual coaching and mentoring of key people in the team. A new direction was given by cutting the daunting change management problem into more manageable chunks. Multi disciplinary project teams were set up where planners, engineers, manufacturers, working partners and suppliers got together 'virtually' world-wide to work out, using Pentacle’s project management tools and experience, their own ways of bridging the demand / supply gap."


"These virtual project teams overcame the cash flow barriers with partnership structures which were a complete departure for this traditionally run company. We worked with our suppliers, outsourcing and sharing both cost and gain."

"Because of the way these partnerships were developed and introduced potential ‘us and them’ conflict was avoided. Low volume, high margin worked quickly in our favour instead of against us and early sales success further endorsed the change, creating a whole new business which was successfully sold to Volkswagen just 6 years after the drastic downsizing."



For further details please contact Sheila Hart on 01386438681/ 07786266585

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