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‘How Low Can You Go?’

The Clifton Review 


The Clifton Review is a tri-weekly column that examines the question of the Clifton project along with the evolution of the war between two billionaires. We covered the start of this war with articles describing the battle over easement rights, the mysterious burning of a home, the blocks to rebuilding, and countless questionable court filings.


While the 2018 series salutes fashion mogul Peter Nygård’s Golden Jubilee detailing his rags to riches story, his incredible business success over these past fifty years and an inside look at how he did it, The Clifton Review will also continue to address current affairs as they relate to the good of The Bahamas.



‘How Low Can You Go?’


By P.J. Malone



Not very many people are limber enough to lean backwards and get really low to dance beneath a low limbo pole. Thank goodness that lacking the ability to win a limbo contest has no dire consequences. However, having a limber or nimble business can reap countless rewards.


A challenge that some new business startups have, especially noticeable in The Bahamas, is that even though the business doesn’t ‘take off’, they stick to it doing the same thing over and over until they are forced to close it. There is a way to avoid this.


An Entrepreneur online magazine writer talks about the need to be ready to change course when taking risks and launching a new business. In her article, “4 Steps to Taking Calculated Risks That Move Your Business Forward” Elise Mitchell writes,


Developing a new product is risky — you’re wagering time, money and talent. As any entrepreneur will tell you, the risks don’t disappear after your startup gets off the ground. To grow, you have to explore new products, offer new services and experiment with new markets.


There is an essential requirement to be able to do this. That is, having an agile business.


So what exactly is business agility?


A management consultant from a top U.S. business consulting firm, McKinsey & Company, described business agility this way: “Agility is the ability of an organization to renew itself, adapt, change quickly, and succeed in a rapidly changing, ambiguous, turbulent environment.” (Aaron De Smet: “The keys to organizational agility” Dec. 2015)


It’s like when fashion mogul Peter Nygard saw the market changing in the fashion industry and didn’t allow himself to be squeezed out.


In the 70s, Nygard was considered the ‘King of Polyester’ because he had taken the core polyester fabric and perfected it to make it do everything he wanted it to do. He had eliminated disadvantages of the fabric being hard and not absorbing moisture. He softened the material and made it to keep the wearer cool. These changes had turned it into a beautiful fabric and resulted in Nygard’s company being considered the best at using polyester.


However, In the late ‘80s early ‘90s, Nygård recognized that there was a move among many major retailers to start shifting from polyester products.  This created a dilemma for him: He had a very loyal customer base and he did not want to lose them by making such dramatic shifts in product.

He needed to find a way to protect his company from getting squeezed out in terms of floor space and presentations within the major department stores. Nygard’s company was known for making beautiful clothes. But if there is no opportunity to present those clothes, there is no opportunity for them to be sold. He came up with a new strategy.

It’s just like your new start up: you may make the most beautiful product in the world, but if there is no opportunity to showcase it, or you can’t get it to the people who really want it, it doesn’t matter that it is the most beautiful product in the world. Your business will likely go under.

So, you would need to come up with a strategy for showcasing your new product and getting it in front of the people who really want it as opposed to people who do not.


Peter Nygard came up with a strategy that shifted his business model completely. His ability to continuously remain agile made the difference between going under, like many of the others in his industry, and achieving exponential success year in and year out.


In this year of Peter Nygard’s golden jubilee, we’ll continue with our in-depth study of the business strategies he used that has taken his business from 800 thousand to 800 million over fifty years.


Coming up, we’ll focus on risk evaluations, business agility and how you can be prepared to change course in business to be able to achieve exponential business growth.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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