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Laura Ashley - Entrepreneur


The key factor contributing to the successes of Laura Ashley up to 1985 was divided into personal and environment.

Personal level

At personal level, the Ashleys were born entrepreneurs and visionary leaders.  They had complementary talents, for example Laura・s design flair and Bernard・s business acumen.  They had clear and distinct vision of purpose and directed the company to be as responsive as possible to their personal wishes.  It was their innovative, aggressive, proactive and risk-taking characters in focusing in traditional English country values designs that led to the success of the company.  The success was also aided by their technical competence, high achievement and creativity to diversity their business from fabric printing to other clothing, home furnishings and related products from its origins. 

At broader environment level

The company under the entrepreneurial management of Ashleys was young and aggressive.  They searched for new opportunities that might be perceived as too risky by large firms or indeed not perceived at all.  They focused on niche markets because their design philosophy was deeply rooted in traditional English country values.  They remained this image by creating the same look and atmosphere throughout the world.  Furthermore, the basic structure of the company was a vertically integrated business embracing design, fabric printing, clothing manufacture and retailing.  This enhanced the Ashleys to implement their focused strategy as they could retain tight control and flexibility through the vertical set-up.

This focused strategy was successful also by luck.  The two apron dresses were not originally intended as fashion items but proved to be of profound significance to the subsequent development of the group.

.Successful entrepreneurs need to build an enterprise that will function without them・.  Laura Ashley・s was successful in this aspect because she had changed her role for the company to continue to flourish.  She created and trained teams of designers to develop her work.  Her design concepts had been thoroughly absorbed and remained deeply engaged in the company after her death.  This was also the common purpose and norms that had been understood throughout the company.


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