When the Ralph Lauren Corporation recently unveiled a turnaround plan, calling it “The Way Forward,” it unwittingly invoked another all-American icon fallen on hard times: Ford Motor, whose “Way Forward” plan in 2006 saved the automaker from bankruptcy. Ford’s success has become a staple of business school case studies. And much of the current Ralph Lauren strategy seems inspired by the Ford playbook — enhancing a venerable but financially challenged brand by slashing costs, reducing the work force, closing stores and improving quality. At first blush, a cyclical automaker and a retail fashion designer would seem to have little in common. But like Ford before its recent renaissance, Ralph Lauren is a globally recognized symbol of American style and expertise that, in recent years, has faced growing competition, changing consumer tastes, steep discounting and slumping sales and profits.
Deputy Postmaster General Ron Stroman told a group of bulk mailers last week that the Postal Service has decided to drop its plan to move to a five-day delivery schedule in the interests of moving postal reform legislation ahead this year.
“Congress has said that it is a politically difficult hurdle to overcome,” Stroman told a meeting of the Association for Postal Commerce in Washington last week. Five-day delivery was one of a number of reform demands the Postal Service agreed to pull back to get a bill passed, according to a report in the group’s newsletter.
Stroman said stakeholders have made significant progress, but have yet to come to agreement on all issues facing the Postal Service. One subject that mailers and postal executives differ on is baking the 4.3% exigency surcharge into the base rate, a move proposed by Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) in his iPOST bill. Asked by a PostCom member if USPS would seek to recover lost revenues should that come to pass, Stroman said he hoped to get the legislation passed immediately and so avoid the issue entirely.
In other words, Stroman is holding out hope that a postal reform bill could be passed by April, when exigency is due to expire. Considering that Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson just called a hearing to discuss USPS financial issues tomorrow, that’s a tall order.