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Costa Coffee: Project Marlow – Compact Case

By Julian Birkinshaw, Ken Mark


For Jim Slater, head of Costa Express in 2014, the biggest new growth opportunity was to roll out the company’s third-generation vending machine, called Marlow. The product had been developed in record time, but Slater faced several strategic and operational challenges in launching it.

Learning objectives

  1. Provide insight into how an established firm can develop an entirely new product line through an independent or “skunkworks” style of team.
  2. Understand the challenges of managing in an ambidextrous way: in other words, understand the trade offs and tensions involved in trying to innovate in a radical way while also operating an established business that innovates in an incremental way.
  3. Gain insight into the process of corporate entrepreneurship in an established firm.


Publication Date: January 2021
LBS Case Code: CCS-21-001
Subjects: , , ,
Pages: 3
Format: pdf