Thinking of the times I had been in there in recent years I recall a catalogue of disappointment. In the past they had been the place to go if you needed a small screw or some new tupperware. In recent years they had been seeming to specialise in the sort of plastic shit that no-one really needs. Inexpensive kids toys, crappy homewares, that kind of thing.
You can see how it happened, plastic shit is very high margin. Probably some young thrusting exec got hold of some shelf space to stock some new lines, and bingo, it made a fortune. So some more and then some more again was given over to this plastic gold, until so much was going through the shop that they forgot what they were all about.
It's very common to talk about what your 'core competency' is – especially in these difficult times – but it is not so easy to see what it actually is. For instance Bosch are in many different areas of industry seemingly; kitchen products, construction, gardening, you name it, but they actually understand their core competency very well – the production of small electrical motors.
Woolworths core competency was comprehensiveness, you could get whatever you needed there for your home, no matter how small or strange. As soon as that promise went unfulfilled, it was irrelevant how much shiny plastic stuff they had, no-one wanted to go there.
So I guess the question for business today is; are you selling plastic shit or electric motors?