Lane Crawford – developing a 21st century-ready culture


Lane Crawford is a household name in Hong Kong and sets the stage for luxury brands across the world. Externally, moves into new markets and mediums have been a critical part of keeping the brand relevant but internally, the company’s ability to adapt didn’t mature at the same pace. A hierarchical company, locked in a negative status-quo, the business was complex, unwieldy, slow and bureaucratic, with little engagement with frontline employees. 

The turning point came when Andrew Keith, the organisation’s president, looking at the input and drivers for the company’s business plan at the beginning of 2016, realised that the missing piece for Lane Crawford was the lack of a fundamental ethos for the business – the ‘we didn’t know who we were’ situation becoming manifest. The senior team was adrift in a chaotic range of mega-trends – omni-channel, globalisation, supply chain, risk – with no way to decide what was noise and what was critical.

Anchoring into a vision and values

Almost a year of hard work and input from across the business resulted in the 2020 Vision – an all encompassing strategy that mapped the company’s focus for the following three years, the values and voice it needed to define and find across that time and the major projects that were critical for its success. It also outlined, in exquisite detail, who Lane Crawford’s customer base needed to be. There was no doubt that the shape, size and culture of the business was not right for this plan. 

Whilst painful, the structural changes were the easier part of the process. The real challenge came when the company focused on its ways of working. The team knew they had to make the values come alive and sustainably shift leadership attitude and widespread behavioural change. The Culture Builders has partnered with Lane Crawford to transform its culture through a deep focus on its values of Passion, Learning and Collaboration (PLC) to act as the catalyst for change, as well as a broad programme of practical activity to equip the organisation for that change. 

A multi-layered approach

A comprehensive three layered approach has supported senior leaders, managers and a ‘guiding crew’ of culture change champions and all employees. Activity has included leadership development around the core values and levers for change, crafting a compelling story for the change and vision for the years ahead, equipping a guiding crew of culture champions, identifying and recruiting talent within the parameters of the values and driving behaviour in all employees through localised storytelling and recognising and rewarding the values in action. Other practical interventions have included practical skills for all managers, simple practical tools for all employees to help interpret the values in actions and on-the-job and more formal training and development to build new skills. 

The organisation has transformed to become an innovative luxury brand, with inspirational leaders that actively grow talent. The work has delivered increased engagement scores for three years running, an increase in staff retention, a continued increase in sales figures, with 2019 delivering the best sales figures in recent history – and to top it all off, an international award for culture change and being awarded by Aon Hewitt as “2019 China Best Employer.” More recently, due to the coronavirus outbreak, our focus for Lane Crawford has had to shift rapidly to support them through this time. You can read more about that here (link through to the covid-19 case study). 

‘If I look at where we were at the start of this work, to today, I see a massive shift in our organisation. It started slow but the momentum quickly built and I know we’ve put in something that is unavoidable – people can’t hide from this work or go around it – everyone has to be in the boat and rowing with us – it’s no longer optional. People will occasionally tell me that they have seen someone not ‘being PLC’ and ask what this means for the change work we are doing. I point out to them that, historically, they wouldn’t even have had the confidence or reference point to say that, and then I ask them a question… What are WE going to do about it?’ 

Andrew Keith, President 

Listen now to our podcast with Andrew Keith