In 1895 in Czechoslovakia, two keen cyclists, Vaclav Laurin and Vaclav Klement, designed and produced their own bicycle. Their business became Skoda in 1925. Skoda went on to manufacture cycles, cars, farm ploughs and airplanes in Eastern Europe. Skoda overcame hard times over the next 65 years. These included war, economic depression and political change.
By 1990 the Czech management of Skoda was looking for a strong foreign partner. Volkswagen AG (VAG) was chosen because of its reputation for strength, quality and reliability. It is the largest car manufacturer in Europe providing an average of more than five million cars a year giving it a 12% share of the world car market.
Volkswagen AG comprises the Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda, SEAT, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, Lamborghini, Bentley and Bugatti brands. Each brand has its own specific character and is independent in the market. Skoda UK sells Skoda cars through its network of independent franchised dealers.
To improve its performance in the competitive car market, Skoda UK”s management needed to assess its brand positioning. Brand positioning means establishing a distinctive image for the brand compared to competing brands. Only then could it grow from being a small player. To aid its decision-making, Skoda UK obtained market research data from internal and external strategic audits. This enabled it to take advantage of new opportunities and respond to threats.
The audit provided a summary of the business's overall strategic position by using a SWOT analysis. SWOT is an acronym which stands for:
Strengths - the internal elements of the business that contribute to improvement and growth
Weaknesses - the attributes that will hinder a business or make it vulnerable to failure
Opportunities - the external conditions that could enable future growth
Threats - the external factors which could negatively affect the business.
This case study focuses on how Skoda UK's management built on all the areas of the strategic audit. The outcome of the SWOT analysis was a strategy for effective competition in the car industry.