Business communication: writing a SWOT analysis
Business communication: writing a SWOT analysis

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Business communication: writing a SWOT analysis

6.1 Gathering information from a source

To begin this section, you will practise extracting the key pieces of information from a video.

Activity 6

Watch the following video (from the BBC programme Made in Britain, recorded in 2012), which will introduce you to the company Brompton Bicycle. Watch first, just to get a general idea of the company, where they are located and what they produce. Then, watch a second time and make quick notes on any points you hear that could be categorised as strengths. Watch the video a third time and note down any weaknesses, opportunities or threats which are mentioned. Once you have completed your notes, condense them to concise points, decide which category each point belongs to and type them in the following table.

(You will learn more about making concise notes later in this course.)

Download this video clip.Video player: lb170_2017j_vid103_640x360.mp4
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Transcript

EVAN DAVIS (NARRATION):
Dynamic, efficient, high-value, less visible, and more niche. It's not easy to keep track of manufacturing these days. Take our bike industry. It's smaller than it used to be, but more specialist- like Brompton, the British fold-up bike. The Brompton design team wanted to show me that their bikes can be versatile even though they're sold specifically for urban commuting.
EVAN DAVIS:
Brompton really is a very niche company with just one specialist product line. But hey, if you can find enough small, profitable niches, you can build a large, affluent economy.
EVAN DAVIS (NARRATION):
And a profitable niche can build an affluent company, too. Amazingly, Brompton is now Britain's biggest bike manufacturer.
WILL BUTLER-ADAMS:
Here we have the really clever part of the factory. This is where all the frames are made. This is where we have all the forming, cropping, and bending of the raw material to make the bike.
EVAN DAVIS (NARRATION):
The company is turning out 30,000 bikes a year. But managing director Will Butler-Adams insists it's not a mass-market business. Even the cheapest bike costs 700 pounds because, he says, specialist bikes like this need to be high-precision and hand-built.
WILL BUTLER-ADAMS:
If you look at the workmanship, absolutely perfectly lined brazing, beautiful little pools. And if you see that, Shannon's put his name on it. Every brazer put their name on each part that they braze.
EVAN DAVIS:
It would be nice if they could mass-produce these bikes one day, wouldn't it, and we could really sell a lot?
WILL BUTLER-ADAMS:
Well, if you don't have a name to it, you can rush it. You don't care. You chuck it in the pile. No one is going to know it's yours. If you put your name to something, you're proud of it. It's your workmanship for the life of the bike.
EVAN DAVIS (NARRATION):
Around the turn of the 20th century, Rover, which later became the car firm, built the first truly modern bicycle. It was a niche product costing over 1,000 pounds in today's money.
As the century wore on, companies like Raleigh built industrial empires on bikes, churning out high volumes of low value products. Affordable motorised transport and cheap foreign competition began to take their toll. Britain's commodity bike business collapsed.
In contrast, specialisation has kept Brompton very much alive. Exports of their folding bikes have been growing at 15 per cent a year.
WILL BUTLER-ADAMS:
This one is going Singapore. Arizona.
EVAN DAVIS:
Spain, Spain, Spain, Spain.
WILL BUTLER-ADAMS:
Singapore, Singapore, Singapore. So they're disappearing all over the world.
EVAN DAVIS:
You export what, about two-thirds of them?
WILL BUTLER-ADAMS:
Two-thirds to about 38 different countries.
EVAN DAVIS (NARRATION):
China may be able to make specialist bikes like these someday, but they won't compete with us while we have an advantage in design, skills, and branding. Fortunately, as China gets richer, the more of our high-value stuff the country can afford to buy.
WILL BUTLER-ADAMS:
There is a lot of potential in China. It could be bigger than all of the world that we currently supply put together. But the interesting thing is, they would only want their bikes if they were made in London. They would not want them if we moved manufacturing to China. It would ruin it. So we better employ a few more people and make a few more bikes and sell a few more in China.
EVAN DAVIS (NARRATION):
Brompton shows that dynamic companies in dynamic economies are built on the back of doing things others can't do rather than competing with them in things they can.
End transcript
 
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SWOT analysis of Brompton Bicycle 2012

Strengths Weaknesses
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Opportunities Threats
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Answer

The following are all possible answers:

SWOT analysis of Brompton Bicycle 2012

Strengths Weaknesses
  • Britain’s biggest bike manufacturer
  • Quality workmanship, hand built
  • Specialisation
  • Exports growing – two thirds of bikes exported to 38 countries
  • Profitable niche
  • Very niche, only one product line
Opportunities Threats
  • Growth potential
  • China can afford to buy
  • Huge potential market in China
  • China may be able to compete some day

Discussion

It is common when making a SWOT analysis to use bullet points and brief phrases (noun phrases) so that the table concisely summarises the main points about the case.

Notice how one aspect of the company can be seen as both a strength and a weakness, depending on the way you look at it. Being a ‘niche’ company can be a strength in that this can go with quality and rarity, but it can also be a weakness as there is risk if the whole company is based on only one product.

Sometimes what one person considers a strength might be considered a weakness by someone else: for example, the fact that all the bikes are made in Britain. This can be seen as a strength if it appeals to customers. However, it can be a weakness if you consider that manufacturing in Britain is expensive. This is why SWOT analysis is not necessarily straightforward. If you decide to put a point in one category, you need to be able to explain why you put it there.

LB170_1

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