The Strategic Capabilities and Core Competencies of Adnams Brewing Company

Strategic capability is the ability of a business to utilise all capabilities, skills, and resources to achieve a competitive advantage, survive and improve its value over the long run. Therefore, core competencies refer to operational and business functions that a firm does best and from which it gets profits. An example of Adnams’ competency is the use of valuable resources and capacities, which enable it to capitalise on opportunities and cushion the company from external threats. Adnams uses locally grown hops for brewing beer.

The Southwold scenic beauty also adds to the attractiveness of Adnams’ brand. As indicated in the case study, the nature and wildlife of this coastal town contributes to the company’s image and impression and is the root of its pride and business progress. This also results from the fact that Adnams’ brand originated in Southwold and is well-known in Suffolk’s environment. Andy Wood, the chief executive, understands that customers are happier with products that offer a sense of place that is familiar to them and ensures Adnam’s give customers just that. In a modern time when customers are more conscious about their health, nothing can please customers more than local foods and drinks whose history is known to be genuine. It is clear from this discussion that the resources used by Adnams are rare and few to no competitors own similar resources and expert capabilities.

Any competitors that attempt to imitate Adnams have to incur huge costs and may end up realising that the company’s capabilities and resources are inimitable. This relates to Adnam’s lightest and greenest bottles, the 6 million pounds’ distribution centre, anaerobic digester plant, and their expensive dual-fuel truck. The designs and use of natural resources on these products are not easy to imitate.

Even a company that tries will not be able to copy everything and do it in a way that matches what Adnams did. The resources and capabilities of Adnams are also non-substitutable as none other can meet an equivalent level of utilisation. Adnams’ brand is already famous in Southwold. This is a consequence of the long history (650 years) of the company’s beer brewing activities in the location. Any other company that attempts to find fame in this area, thus, has minimal chances of succeeding. This comes out of the marketing campaign designed for “Beer from the coast” in 2003.

The posters indicated that Adnams was the ultimate local beer brewer whose products offered unmatched pleasure. Adnams’ leaders are also innovative and constantly seek opportunities that others have not attempted. Commenting on customer connections, Andy stated that Adnams must have been the first beer brand to be shown on Twitter. The chief executive said that thousands of following that resulted from the introduction on social media provided export opportunities for the local brand.   

Porters Generic Strategies: Adnams’ Cost-leadership, Focus and Differentiation Strategy

These generic strategies are crucial in determining the direction of a firm. Understanding the strategies enables identification of the course a company takes to overcome completion. Figure 1 below illustrates the factors to consider when determining the generic strategy of a company.


Cost-leadership Strategy

The strategy relates to coverage of the large market and selling at the lowest price. Alternatively, a seller may target a broader market share and set average prices. The goal of choosing any of these is to minimise company expenses. Adnams succeeds in this strategy because it has adequate investment capital, low labour, and materials cost and efficient logistics. Adnams is the employer of up to 435 local people.

Locally-sourced labour is usually cheaper than when a company imports labour, for example. Again, the company has approximately 1,500 shareholders. The number is large enough to ensure the provision of adequate operational capital. Beer brewing also uses locally grown pops and construction materials are acquired from within the city of Southwold, which is rich in natural resources. This should be a great source of the natural construction materials and reefs used when building the new distribution centre.

Focus Strategy

This involves selecting a niche with little competition and offering products and services with unique features. Adnams selected Norfolk and Suffolk as the most appropriate location for inns to grow its brewery. All these are located in Southwold. Additionally, the Swan and Crown hotels (the beach ad seafront establishments with beautifully painted huts) are also found in Southwold. The choice and use of this strategy have brought Adnams strong brand loyalty.

To work with this strategy against the competition, Adnams ensures that the uniqueness of its products is maintained. Here, the company exploits its competencies and strengths. The main strength of the company is the stakeholders’ connection which has rendered the company shares illiquid. These long-term relationships between the two families that jointly run the business ensure continuous commitment towards Adnams’ sustainability.   

Differentiation Strategy

Differentiation works where a company goes for a larger market and manufactures products with unique features. Adnams began as a local company but has continued to expand its national market, with a future focus on overseas markets. The potential for international expansion was attained through social media (Twitter) marketing. The strategy enables Adnams to make its products more attractive than competitors. Adequate research and development, innovation, and delivery of high quality contribute to excellence in this strategy.

Adnams prioritises innovation, and this enables it to identify challenges in the UK market (patterns of consumer behaviour) and device approaches for dealing with those problems. Efficient marketing methods considered by Adnams ensure that customers understand where the uniqueness lies in every product. Flexibility and ability to adapt fast to market changes set Adnams apart from its competitors.

Organizational Culture and Adnams’ Success


Organisational culture is the set of company practices, values, and expectations that direct actions taken by team members. Culture makes a company by improving its performance by informing punctuality, tone of contracts, and employee benefits. Adnams culture easily aligns with employees making them feel comfortable while feeling supported and valued. This comes from the testimony of a newly appointed team leader who found the people very cooperative (doing what they were told) and resolution of problems at the team level.

The team leader reported feeling like he was among the business’ cornerstones. The company has a habit of acknowledging the contributions of everyone in a team. It is for this reason that Karen Hester “open-plan” office. Here, teams sit in pods to discuss events of the previous day, activities of the day, and make arrangements for the next day. Karen also holds “snack & Chat” sessions with brewery staff in Swan Hotel. This happens an hour meeting of sharing on the happenings of the entire month. She also interacts with the daymen three to four times every year and invites them to chat over a meal. Recognition of employees’ accomplishments develops the feeling of belonging. The appreciation of employees promotes engagement, retention, and productivity. Adams has a low turnover rate and employees are willing to spend extra minutes work to ensure that the day’s work is completed satisfactorily.

The meetings, where Karen sits with the staff and talk, are important because they enable employee voice. Thus, Adnams works with a culture that appreciates employee feedback. The company encourages leaders to listen to subordinate staff, and these listening skills extend to the interactions between employees and customers. Karen, in particular, understands that communication enables discovery and improves the quality of services. Communication is a crucial tool for the identification and mitigation of problems before they escalate to uncontrollable standards. Such interactions enhance employee satisfaction with jobs.

Analysis and identification as well as a resolution of cultural deficiencies are also possible through the collection of feedback. Karen is better at advocating Adnams’ culture because she has learned it from previous leaders. As the case study reveals, Karen joined Adnams in 1990 as a cleaner and was promoted to transport clerk in 1994. These promotions must have resulted from recognition of her capability and, thus, served as a way of appreciating her efforts. In 1996, she was the transport manager and became the head of logistics in 2000. The teams she supervised increased as she moved from one post to the other and Karen continued to pass what she had learned to her teams. The recognition is particularly presented by her awards, East of England Business Woman of the year in 2008 and CBI First Woman Business in 2010. Karen lives by the company values and promotes connections among members of her teams.



The unit has improved my understanding of core resources and capabilities and resources. I now know the requirements an organisation must obtain to compete successfully in a market and even overpower competitors. With this knowledge, I can conceptualise far-reaching goals and select the appropriate actions for both short- and long-term attainment of the goals.

These skills are important in strategic leadership because they encourage the transformation of vision into proper actions and direct the activities that teams should undertake. Knowledge of resources and capabilities that grant a competitive advantage in a specific market enable capturing of clear projection of future trends. The overall duties of strategic leaders include inspiring actions, foreseeing challenges, seeking feedback, and analysing organisational data to define the correct direction.

I also learned that organisational culture is vital for social interactions that happen between leaders and subordinates, and with customers. The most crucial point I grasped is that a company that intends to be different consider a costly undertaking as these are not easily imitated by competitors. This means that a strategic leader must have an insatiable quest to learn more about the industry and market of operation. In other words, curiosity to learn about the market is an important way of identifying unique ways of solving the existing market problems.

Knowing what the industry does or expects and the activities of competitors and comparing them against approaches adopted by my company is a great way of finding the type of culture to promote. There is a need to concentrate on activities and programs with great value to the organisation. Such focus enables the development of products that fit the market at the given time. This is as well vital for the management and marketing of products. With this type of culture, the sustainability of a company is achieved.

The unit has also enlightened me on the way to select a framework for business strategy. Market research is the most important tool in going about these endeavours. Through research, market features such as trends, disruptions, and shits come clear. The guides the process of establishing a vision for the company and helps with the process of planning. Additionally, I have understood that elements such as pricing of similar products, number of competitors, availability of labour and raw materials, and location should be analysed when deciding the niche and nature of products. Learning on these factors has built my ability to anticipate problems proactively.

Using this skill in my strategic leadership, I will continuously investigate the reasons for internal and external changes. Given that market shifts and trends reveal themselves with time, ceaseless learning of the environment, challenges, and competitors prepare leaders to deal with the challenges when they unfold. What a strategic leader need is a vision that penetrates further into the future to reveal something much higher than the existing reality. In-depth research is the only key to obtaining valuable information. Persistent market analysis is essential here.

While synthesising on all of the above topics, I have realised that collaboration is critical in strategic leadership. Confidence in one’s knowledge alone is not enough because organisational performance is impacted by what colleagues and team ideas. As a strategic leader, therefore, I will ensure to integrate the ideas into the business’ vision. The incorporation of multiple perspectives also enables the fostering of a culture that appreciates openness and flow of information. This will particularly, assist with adapting to changes. Transparency and reliance on data in making decisions is also important. These features enable the making of reasoned decisions as many individual viewpoints and evidence from data are involved.

An example is where an investment appears expensive but has promising potential. In this situation, the upfront payment, duration taken to get money back, potential risks, and ways of handling risks must be discussed. A collaborative mindset is crucial in arriving at the correct judgment. The transparency and utilisation of data are important in determining the areas where the business acquires its value. I understand that a strategic leader has to employ reliable data to maintain a competitive advantage. Strategic leaders must also acquire knowledge of new trends for their sector and others to bring development to the entire company. A culture of openness promotes the enhancement of skills for turning problems into opportunities.