Turnaround and Performance Improvement Advisors


Thomas H. HicksReprint from SGB June 5, 2000

History Lesson

Every retailer seeks to offer outstanding customer service. Millions have been spent on the latest “buzzword” laced programs developed and run by zealous HR and store operations operatives. Many companies have dispatched throngs of personnel to Disney and other seminars and training projects pledging to return immediate impact on sales through friendly, knowledgeable, courteous and prompt service. Countless hours have been consumed to train, brainwash and indoctrinate unwilling, un-motivated, non-believing people in the ways of the retailer and its commitment to outstanding, customer service.

What does it all mean? Why do we still do it? What can we learn from the past and from our wasted capital? What and who do we admire for its service and why?

What remains valid is the retailer’s continued desire to:

  • win and retain customers
  • meet or beat service expectations
  • build a consistent image in the customers mind
  • create long-lasting top of mind positive awareness of the business

Define it

In this column we’ve focused much attention on branding of store and creating long-lasting enterprise value. We’ve looked at businesses that have achieved “store as brand” identity. Most if not all have good customer service in the eyes of the consumer, whatever the definition of good may be.


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Thomas H. HicksReprint from SGB (August 23, 2000)

Establishing and maintaining customer relationships has always been crucial to a retailer’s success. But now, more than ever, companies have realized that in order to succeed in the information age, they must do more than offer generalized coupons, promotional events and price discounts. Consumers around the world want to quickly find the merchandise they want at an attractive price, in-stock, and they want to be recognized and feel that they can consistently rely on that organization. In short, the consumer wants to be a retailer’s main priority. What better way for a retailer to do that than through knowing the customer. Call it data mining, customer relationship marketing or whatever the current “buzzword” may be – the bottom line is knowing the customer to direct your offerings, your store and your service to the customer’s needs and desires.

What is data mining?

This is a process by which organizations compile personal, pertinent, actionable, information about the purchasing habits of their current customers as well as potential customers. Traditionally catalogers, who had no other way of getting to know their customers, used “data mining”. The concept spread quickly, becoming a necessary way of doing business in every facet of the global economy. Organizations around the world are now realizing that knowing their customers behavior, thought process and demographic profile is one important way they can establish competitive advantages and create brand awareness and brand loyalty over the long term.

How is Information obtained?

As consumers, we are often bombarded with unsolicited mailers and surveys (in-store or phone) that may be viewed by some as intrusive. With privacy concerns on the rise, many organizations have had to rethink their data-gathering initiatives. The Internet has however spawned new and unique ways of accumulating consumer information. Most importantly, it allows consumers to freely, on their own time, relay personal information about themselves. It is believed by many that the key to direct marketing is to collect information when the consumer wants to communicate it, and not when companies feel they want it.


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Renaissance Partners is a leading performance improvement / corporate renewal firm specializing in retailing, consumer products and its supply chain (manufacturers, distributors, service and technology providers), manufacturing and service sectors (hospitality, restaurant, racino and racetrack operations, real estate) Owned and staffed by successful experienced operators, the Renaissance team has been creating value in and restoring health to stagnant or mature businesses since 1979. Renaissance partners and principals do the work in a timely and cost effective manner. The firm maintains solid relationships with lenders and business partners who are knowledgeable in the retail and retail related industry.
The retail/consumer products industry faces a maturing US economy, increased unemployment, higher food and fuel prices, increased taxes and insurance costs, social security concerns, rising medical costs, a time stressed society and most recently extreme volatility in the housing (including lower housing prices), credit, equity and global markets. Performance influencers include fast paced fashion cycle changes, over-storing and over-capacity, tightening of credit by lenders, the Wal-Mart and consolidation effects and growth in internet retailing. Competitive changes continue as the large players get bigger and stronger. Indirect challenges are posed by large retailers in many merchandise categories and the effect of thrift-chain growth. Private equity and hedge fund investments are furthering consolidation in many segments of the retail industry and demonstrating unwillingness to reinvest in troubled portfolio companies plagued by excessive leverage. The issues affecting consumer businesses trickle down to most sectors of the US and world economies. Continue reading

Charlotte, N.C., June 18, 2010 – Renaissance Partners provides a full suite of turnaround and corporate renewal services
to organizations confronting financial distress and performance stagnation. Our experienced team of business leaders is
uniquely qualified to support company’s requiring:

  • Capital
  • Strategic analysis and repositioning
  • Consumer research
  • Operational and process improvement including information technology and real estate
  • Restructuring, out of court and in bankruptcy
  • Liquidation and wind-down activities

Please visit our website www.renaissancelc.com to learn more about our firm and its accomplishments. We believe that

“Performance is the Only Option” and we fully commit to accomplishing the goals of our clients, everyday in every way.
To discuss your situation please contact Thomas H. Hicks, Managing Partner, at 954-415-6369.


Connecting Angel Investors with Entrepreneurs!

Tuesday, August 17th
“Turning Around An Angel
Investment – What Are The Options?”
Panel Participants:
Thomas H. Hicks
Renaissance Partners LC
Franck D. Chantayan
Carlton Fields

Register NOW!

Angel Investment Forum of Florida
The Association for Corporate Growth
Turnaround Management Association
Risk Management Association
August 17, 2010
5:30pm – 8:30pm
Abacoa Golf Club
105 Barbados Drive
Jupiter, FL
Dinner is included with all registrations. Advance paid registration is $35 for Members and $75 for Non-Members by credit or debit card. Registrations the day of the event, including at the door, is $45 for Members and $85 for Non-Members. Credit cards, checks, and cash (exact amount) will be accepted at the door. Advance registration closes at 6:00 p.m. the day before the event. Cancellations received by 6:00 p.m. the day before the event will received a refund of the registration fees paid less $10.00 for administration and processing. Otherwise no refunds.
Phone: (561) 247-3017
Register or visit on-line at www.AIFFL.org


Pompano Beach, FL May 1, 2011 – Renaissance Partners’ Thomas H. Hicks, Managing Partner, will serve as moderator of a Commercial Finance Association panel discussion on May 10, 2011 at Country Club of Boca Raton, starting with a noon luncheon. Hicks is Chairman of the CFA-Florida Education Committee. Titled “The Current State of Secured Lending and Private Equity M&A”, the panel will explore buyer and seller trends, favored sectors and deal types and how private equity and secured lenders partner to get deals done.
The panel is comprised of
Todd D. Plosker, Principal and Head of U.S. Capital Markets at Sun Capital Partners
Joseph A. Davio, Senior Vice President, Group Manager Business Banking Florida, Comerica Bank
Kevin J. Gordon, President – Catalyst Financial
Interested guests can register for the CFA event by contacting florida@cfa.com. Price for CFA members is $35; $55 for non-members. CFA-Florida has also arranged for interested attendees to play golf following the event at a special foursome rate of $34 per golfer.


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Renaissance Partners provides a full suite of financial and strategic advisory services including corporate renewal, turnaround and crisis management, performance improvement and guidance in the fund raising process for a wide range of clients throughout North America.

Experience > Value, Integrity, Performance
Cleveland…Columbus…Charlotte…Houston…Lexington…Memphis…Ft. Lauderdale
Tel: (954) 971-3555 Fax: (954) 971-1922 Email: renparlc@gate.net Web: www.renaissancelc.com



Pompano Beach, FL April 20, 2011 – Renaissance Partners’ Thomas H. Hicks, Managing Partner, participated in a joint presentation of Turnaround Management Association and The Angel Forum of Florida today at Marriott Boca Raton. Titled “Environment for Entering and Exiting Angel and VC Investments.” Hicks remarked that the fundamentals of business performance apply throughout the cycle, with desirable businesses having:

  • Attractive market and competitive position
  • Attractive key business attributes including talent
  • Positive and growing cash flow
  • Knowledge of the customers, suppliers and financial sources and communication objectively with them (i.e., invest in relationships)
  • Technologically advanced business practices
  • Excellent at strategic and financial planning and focused on execution
  • Seasoned outside, independent advisors and professional

Hicks and other panel members suggested that entrepreneurs keep the capital structure simple, invest early in sound financial/reporting systems, become an accomplished spokesperson for their company and practice cash flow planning and tracking to never run out of cash.

The panel also discussed the current deal activity environment with market conditions being driven by new opportunities emerging from the economic downturn, cash on sidelines waiting to be employed and debt availability at attractive terms.
Renaissance Partners provides a full suite of financial and strategic advisory services including corporate renewal, turnaround and crisis management, performance improvement and guidance in the fund raising process for a wide range of clients throughout North America.

Cleveland…Columbus…Charlotte…Houston…Lexington…Memphis…Ft. Lauderdale
Tel: (954) 971-3555 Fax: (954) 971-1922 Email: renparlc@gate.net Web: www.renaissancelc.com

Thomas H. HicksReprint from SGB February 1, 2000

Let the Super Show begin! It’s a new year, a new millennium. So much for Holiday ’99. We’re at a crossroads – it’s a “New Beginning”. So what’s it all mean anyway?

Where are we as Sporting Goods Retailers?

We’ve just emerged from another year of average to poor performance. Jumbo Sports is gone. Gart and Sportmart have merged Hibbett’s good regional sales growth has continued but its stock price is off 40% from its May 1999 high. Galyan’s has split from Limited and the big players, Sports Authority and Oshman’s have continued their course. Some regionals remain, such as Dunham’s, and sports apparel chains such as Dick’s and Bob’s continue modest growth. Footwear and related apparel have posted a relatively weak year and it’s taken a toll on footwear players like Just For Feet and Footstar as well as the sporting goods mass merchants. And now e-commerce! Fogdog Sports and MVP.com represent high profile new entrants, just to name a few, while brick and mortar retailers, manufacturers and catalogers heat up their entrées for direct consumer consumption (e.g., footlocker.com, nike.com, dsports.com, thesportsauthority.com, REI.com, Riddell.com and Varsity.com). E-commerce provides both another means by which to shop traditional stores’ assortments and a way for some players to create smaller, segmented, more specialized niches than can effectively be created by building stores. What can we learn from all this and more importantly, what can we do about it in the year ahead?

Where have we been during the 90’s?

It’s clear that for most industry players they buy, present and sell an assortment of highly recognized vendor branded goods, from apparel to footwear to equipment. Certain stores occupy stronger or weaker market positions due to their real estate density, quality and time of possession on a market-by-market basis. Many of these store chains, however, generally lack their own identity… an identity that is theirs and not that of the vendors whose goods they sell. These chains tend to reflect what has occurred in department store retailing as a result of consolidation and focus on cost cutting and inventory turns – homogenization. However, unlike the department stores, there has been little brick and mortar consolidation in sporting goods to create a truly dominant national player producing top-flight financial results.

The answer may lie in ………………….!

Differentiation!!! Create differentiation. Create top-of-mind awareness. Create a point-of-view. Perform editing for your customer. Stand for something. Stick with it. Send consistent cues. Make your store and your auxiliary distribution mechanisms (catalog, e-commerce, etc.) important.

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