Page 3: Transforming the business
How then did ICI set about transforming itself? ICI decided to create a new portfolio of businesses in areas where it is difficult for rivals to set up, describing the new businesses as: 'ones where you can't simply spend £500m to set up a large production plant to gain entry to the industry overnight'. Rather, ICI has moved into a range of new products which depend on high levels of skill and intelligence. These are products which require wisdom, expertise and accurate research and development based primarily on the requirements of customers. ICI is therefore doing what a number of business gurus in Europe and America have been suggesting - building the intelligent organisation that produces highly sophisticated products that address the needs and requirements of modern sophisticated consumers.
ICI is therefore taking a very bold leap. It is selling less profitable sections of its bulk chemicals business and channelling its resources into building up existing parts of its business and acquiring new businesses that focus on its new core lines. This has involved a staggering £9 billion redistribution of assets (acquisitions and sales) in the year leading up to April 1998. In effect, ICI has asked for a 'redeal' in the cards it is playing with. Instead of playing a hand containing a number of fours and fives, mixed with the odd nine, ten and picture card, ICI has been able to choose its own hand - one with a number of potential aces and trumps.