IELTS Cue Card Sample 391 - Describe a successful company you know

IELTS Speaking Part 2: IELTS Cue Card/ Candidate Task Card.

Describe a successful company you know.

You should say:

  • what it is about
  • where it is located
  • what it does

and explain why you think this company is successful.

Model Answer:
How do you begin to define success? This is really hard, because does it mean a company that makes lots of money? Does it mean a company that produces something innovative or is just very well known? Does it mean a company that makes the world a better place through discovering a medical cure or paying fair wages to staff in countries where they are often exploited? I don’t know, it could mean any or all of the above! Even so, I can think of one company that I know well, and which is meaningful to me, and which started from nothing to become a chain, so I think that makes it more than successful enough to talk about in my eyes, even though you may never have heard of it.

The company is called Bravissimo. I used to live in a town called Leamington Spa, which is in Warwickshire in the UK, and that is where the company started out, and where its head office is still based. Essentially, they are ‘just’ a lingerie retailer i.e. they sell women’s underwear, but what makes them unusual, is that they cater exclusively for erm, well let’s say, the more ‘curvaceous’ figure. They sell bras in larger D+ cup sizes. The company was born from one woman’s frustration at being unable to find a decent comfortable and well-fitting bra when her body shape changed during pregnancy. She and a friend decided they couldn’t be alone in struggling to get quality lingerie appropriate for their size, so they went on a small business course, and with the help of a modest grant set up their own company sourcing and selling lingerie by mail order.

They really hit on a great idea, there was at that time a definite gap in the market supplying bras to women with a fuller figure. The business quickly took off, they really cared about their product, and they had a local ethos. Employing local people at their warehouse, and then when they opened their first shop in Leamington spa they paid good wages and trained staff well. For seemingly the first time, women could go to a specialist shop, be measured without embarrassment by a knowledgeable and sympathetic member of staff and try on as many bras as they wanted to in an unhurried and relaxed environment. Speaking as someone who had real difficulty getting underwear that fitted me, it was just brilliant when they started up. The week the shop opened I went in to be measured and came out with a completely different bra size from the one I’d been wearing before. I threw away all my old underwear, and for the first time ever felt comfortable, confident and quite literally supported with my wonderful new bras!

Unsurprisingly, the company quickly expanded, they now have 21 stores across the UK and also sell via mail order and online. From just the two of them who started up they now employ over 700 people. They have also expanded their range to sell clothing under the Pepperberry brand from 2011. The company is successful because they had a really good idea, and the tenacity to see it through. The founders have expanded carefully, and it is a profitable business. I believe because the company was set up by women who had a real passion for their business, they deliver quality with understanding. I love that the entrepreneurs were two women, and they have an attention to detail which makes for great customer service and generates customer loyalty. I have many friends who, like me, having discovered Bravissimo would now never go anywhere else. The company has grown, but the quality and personal service have remained the same as at the outset.

Because the company started from a need and an idea, rather than setting out to make a fortune, I believe it has an internal integrity. Many women customers want to get rid of their old underwear once they have found a size and product that suits them better. Therefore, Bravissimo has set up recycling banks in their shops so bras in good condition, but that no longer fit their original owner, can be sent to parts of the world where having a bra is seen as an unaffordable luxury yet is much needed to help protect women and girls. It’s hard to imagine from the comfort of the UK, but in some countries, underwear gives protection by demonstrating status and showing that a woman or girl, must therefore have someone who cares for her and protects her. Having a decent bra isn’t just about being more comfortable, it might actually protect these women from sexual assault – startling, but true.

So I think Bravissimo is successful however you look at it. It started with a great idea for a product where there was a gap in the market. It is good at what it does, and it provides something that certainly makes my life a lot easier. The company is financially profitable, and it employs many people in good working conditions. If my memory serves me right I think it may even have been awarded a prize for being the local employer of the year at one time. It has retained a personal feel. I know plenty of people who shop online with them, and yet I’ve never met anyone who has a bad word to say about the company. In this day and age, that degree of customer loyalty is a rare thing indeed. Hurrah for Bravissimo, long may they continue!

[ Written by - Lucy Marris: Careers Adviser (UK), TEFL teacher (Vietnam) ]

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