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Dominic Lim's Aritzia case provides lessons on growth in times of crisis

Feb 2, 2022

Dominic Lim with Aritzia store in background

Dealing with uncertainty is a defining feature of modern business. Whether it’s the global pandemic, issues of injustice and inequality, or the need to build resilience in the environment and supply chains, there’s a new batch of challenges for leaders today. That’s why new cases from Ivey Publishing are bringing current issues to life in the Ivey classroom. Robust discussions of these real-life problems aim to influence behaviour, build critical thinking, and give students the confidence to face the future of business head-on. Here’s a look at new cases written and taught by Ivey faculty and the lessons they bring.

Aritzia: Managing Growth in a Global Pandemic

Dominic Lim, PhD ’09, Assistant Professor, Entrepreneurship (with Alina Salemohamed and Liam Johnson, both MBA ’21)

Although we cannot ignore the lives and businesses shattered by the COVID-19 pandemic, a crisis can also present opportunities for some companies to reinvigorate and even reinvent their business models. Dominic Lim’s Aritzia case considers how the successful Canadian company can move forward in a time of crisis and continue its growth plans. Since Aritzia’s roots are in Vancouver, the story of its rise to success on the global stage is already intriguing. The case deals with an issue/context that has affected almost every type of business, particularly retail – what to do when you’re hit with an external crisis that is beyond your control. And that makes its lessons relevant, timely, and important.

“It is not difficult to recall a number of economic crises that affected many businesses as well as our lives, such as the dot-com bubble in the early 2000s and the 2007-2009 global financial crisis. Crises can, and will, happen again,” said Lim. “The Aritzia case and the lessons from the case discussion will help our students in their future careers by offering them a perspective as well as a repertoire of action items for them to consider in responding to, and even taking advantage of, such unforeseen circumstances.”

Lim said he has enjoyed hearing the students’ first-hand experiences, both positive and otherwise, as customers, shopping companions, or employees, and relating them back to the company’s business model and culture. Part of the case discussion includes watching a video where Aritzia CEO Brian Hill talks about the company’s pandemic response, as well as reviewing the company’s effort to communicate the situation and progress to various stakeholders.

“I like the potentially positive spin on the pandemic this case offers, and that it involves a Canadian success story on a global scale,” said Lim. “The fact that pretty much every student can relate to the company in one way or another is a bonus.”