Strategy Students See Business Disciplines in Action at Hibbett Sports

HibbettHibbett Sports CEO Jeffry Rosenthal and merchandising chief Becky Jones were the visiting “C-Suite” executives at the October 15, 2013 class meeting of the combined undergraduate capstone and MBA class, “Strategic Leadership Through the Eyes of the C-Suite.”

Mr. Rosenthal and Ms. Jones demonstrated to students how strategy is interwoven with various other business disciplines, including: information systems; supply chain management; real estate management; marketing; and finance. For example, Mr. Rosenthal described the company’s “clustered expansion” strategy in which the company expands only within a short driving distance of existing stores, melding its growth strategy with its inventory management.

Ms. Jones described the importance of the Hibbett Sports loyalty program “MVP Rewards,” and how the company sends regular email messages to customers who have signed up for this program. At least one student in the class who coaches his child’s sports team reported that he receives these messages. She also noted that the company has at least 400,000 Facebook “Likes.”

A group of students who had researched Hibbett Sports’s strategy made a presentation to Mr. Rosenthal and Ms. Jones. The students encouraged the Hibbett Sports executives to consider expanding not only alongside Walmart stores but also alongside stores such as Costco and Target.

Hibbett Sports, headquartered in Birmingham, is a publicly-traded company that operates sporting goods stores in small to mid-sized markets primarily in the southeast, southwest, Mid-Atlantic, and Midwest regions of the United States.

Just a few days after his visit with students, Mr. Rosenthal was elected to the board of directors of the company, effective in February 2014.

“Strategic Leadership Through the Eyes of the C-Suite” is taught by UAB Collat School of Business professor Stephen Yoder, and features visits from members of the executive suites of public or other large, complex organizations who discuss their organizations’ strategies and how they are developed and implemented.