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After more than a decade operating in several Latin American countries through a fragmented network of distributors, a German high-performance sports apparel manufacturer decided that it was time to attain majority ownership of the regional businesses and shift to a model of subsidiaries. In Mexico, the firm moved in aggressively to buy out the existing joint venture between three major wholesalers and consolidate the country’s operation under the leadership of very capable Mexican executives who knew the industry inside out. The transition was swift and efficient, and the big bosses in Germany were optimistic about replicating the success throughout the region over the course of the next 18 months. A task force was formed in order to identify key learnings from Mexico and outline best practices for systematically converting seven other markets to an ownership-based model. Members of the task force identified three strategic priorities to be followed in each and every market:

  1. Relaunch the brand through a multimedia campaign by heavily emphasizing its German origins and technological superiority
  2. Sign endorsement deals with the most prominent local athletes and other top celebrities 
  3. Invite key retailers and their spouses to a sales and marketing convention to be held during a week-long cruise in the Caribbean 
The company decided that Chile should be next, in part due to the country’s economic stability and high purchasing power per capita, but also because the contract with the local distributor was about to expire. This was a 3rd-generation family-owned company that had been a business partner for many years, so it was not easy to part ways with them. But the Germans were fully committed to taking over and pursuing their ambitious growth plans. Following some deliberation, and in the spirit of achieving the best possible outcome, it was decided that Mexico’s Commercial Director, Francisco “Paco” Lopez Sordo, was the person best suited to lead the Chilean transition and integration. After all, he had been instrumental in making things happen in Mexico. And if he had done well in the region’s second-largest economy, his supervisors figured, Chile would not pose much of a problem for him. They offered Paco a juicy expat deal and he was truly excited, not just for the promotion but also because this would be his first experience living and working abroad. 
Upon arriving in Santiago, Paco’s mandate seemed very straightforward. First, he would need to assemble a team whom he could trust. Second, he would make sure to deliver against the three strategic priorities. He was asked to report back to headquarters in six months.
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Last updated: 13.05.2022 - 11:03
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