Boom & Bust: Learnings from Multi-location Brands

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What do Brooks Brothers, White Castle, and 7-Eleven have in common? They are among the multi-location retailers, restaurants, and convenience stores founded 50+ years ago and are still operating today. Restructuring, downsizing, and a move to omnichannel sales are inevitable. When you read about brands that have survived and even thrived over the decades, many of them have:

  • Kept their finger on the pulse of consumer changes and needs
  • Diversified their product and service offerings
  • Incorporated technology to reduce costs and improve efficiencies
  • Taken the customer experience seriously and morphed it to remain relevant
  • Grown strategically and smartly
  • Spent wisely on branding and marketing — both conventional and digital
  • Built cultures that attracted the best and the brightest and made changes as needed

Retailers have closed more than 1,400 locations so far this year. Closures are also anticipated for restaurant chains, as labor shortages, supply chain issues, food costs, and the economy all take their toll on specific locations.

Brick-and-mortar multi-location businesses must have insights and agility that are vastly different from single-location or digital-only brands.

All business failures are due to mismanagement or not moving quickly enough. Some are just a result of a couple of bad bets, consumer fickleness and digital behaviors and priorities, and expansion into areas that aren’t recession- or inflation-proof. Success and growth are rarely straight lines. Even those companies that are very well managed may just hit a bump they aren’t prepared for. Or, they may be impacted by economic, global, and national factors beyond their control.

The reasons for “busts” are varied, as are the successes and longevity of other brands (the “booms”). Over the months ahead, we will tackle categories and specific brands experiencing meteoric growth and analyze those that declared bankruptcy or ultimately became defunct.

If your brand is 30+ years old or rapidly expanded in a new consumer category and you’d like to share your story, please get in touch.

And, if you are willing to be honest and reflective and talk about the factors leading to the struggles or demise of a brand, we’d like to hear from you too!

Some readers love to hear “horror stories” of mismanaged companies, massive failures, and scandals. Others are encouraged by tales of small and new brands that are taking the retail, restaurant, and convenience worlds by storm or incorporating new technologies that make operations more efficient for both team members and consumers.

But, as in all aspects of life and work, success and failure contain valuable lessons that multi-location brands can apply to strategic planning, investment decisions, hiring and retention, distribution planning, and marketing.

Watch this column in the weeks and months ahead and discover best practices for multi-location brands to put towards your company’s growth and longevity.

Or, subscribe to Street Fight for daily insights into techniques and strategies.

Long may your brand boom!


Nancy A Shenker, senior editor with Street Fight, is a former big brand (Citibank, Mastercard, Reed Exhibitions) marketing strategist and leader. She has been featured in, the New York Times and Forbes.