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BEC中級閱讀真題精講(7)

2017-12-07 11:23

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  Department Store Magic

  For most of the 20th century Smithson's was one of Britain's most successful department stores, but by the mid-1990s, it had become dull. Still profitable, thanks largely to a series of successful advertising campaigns, but decidedly boring. The famous were careful not to be seen there, and its sales staff didn't seem to have changed since the store opened in 1908. Worst of all, its customers were buying fewer and fewer of its own-brand products,the major part of its business, and showing a preference for more fashionable brands.

  But now all this has changed, thanks to Rowena Baker, who became Smithson's first woman Chief Executive three years ago. Since then, while most major retailers in Britain have been losing money, Smithson's profits have been rising steadily. When Baker started, a lot of improvements had just been made to the building, without having any effect on sales, and she took the bold decision to invite one of Europe's most exciting interior designers to develop the fashion area, the heart of the store. This very quickly led to rising sales, even before the goods on display were changed. And as sales grew, so did profits.

  Baker had ambitious plans for the store from the start. 'We're playing a big game, to prove we're up there with the leaders in our sector, and we have to make sure people get that message. Smithson's had fallen behind the competition. It provided a traditional service targeted at middle-aged, middle-income customers, who'd been shopping there for years, and the customer base was gradually contracting. Our idea is to sell such an exciting variety of goods that everyone will want to come in, whether they plan to spend a little or a lot.' Baker's vision for the store is clear, but achieving it is far from simple. At first, many employees resisted her improvements because they just wouldn't be persuaded that there was anything wrong with the way they'd always done things, even if they accepted that the store had to overtake its competitors. It took many long meetings, involving the entire workforce, to win their support. It helped when they realised that Baker was a very different kind of manager from the ones they had known.

  Baker's staff policies contained more surprises. The uniform that had hardly changed since day one has now disappeared. Moreover, teenagers now get young shop assistants, and staff in the sports departments are themselves sports fans in trainers. As Baker explains, 'How can you sell jeans if you're wearing a black suit? Smithson's has a new identity, and this needs to be made clear to the customers.' She's also given every sales assistant responsibility for ensuring customer satisfaction, even if it means occasionally breaking company rules in the hope that this will help company profits.

  Rowena Baker is proving successful, but the City's big investors haven't been persuaded. According to retail analyst, John Matthews, 'Money had already been invested in refurbishment of the store and in fact that led to the boost in sales. She took the credit, but hadn't done anything to achieve it. And in my view the company's shareholders are not convinced. The fact is that unless she opens several more stores pretty soon, Smithson's profits will start to fall because turnover at the existing store will inevitably start to decline.'

  13 According to the writer, in the mid-1990s Smithson's department store

  A was making a loss.

  B had a problem keeping staff.

  C was unhappy with its advertising agency.

  D mostly sold goods under the Smithson's name.

  14 According to the writer, Smithson's profits started rising three years ago because of

  A an improvement in the retailing sector.

  B the previous work done on the store.

  C Rowena Baker's choice of designer.

  D a change in the products on sale.

  15 According to Rowena Baker, one problem which Smithson's faced when she joined was that

  A the number of people using the store was falling slowly.

  B its competitors offered a more specialised range of products.

  C the store's prices were set at the wrong level.

  D customers were unhappy with the service provided.

  16 According to the writer, many staff opposed Baker's plans because

  A they were unwilling to change their way of working.

  B they disagreed with her goals for the store.

  C they felt they were not consulted enough about the changes.

  D they were unhappy with her style of management.

  17 Baker has changed staff policies because she believes that

  A the corporate image can be improved through staff uniforms.

  B the previous rules were not fair to customers.

  C customers should be able to identify with the staff serving them.

  D employees should share in company profits.

  18 What problem does John Matthews think Smithson's is facing?

  A More money needs to be invested in the present store.

  B The company's profits will only continue to rise if it expands.

  C The refurbishment of the store is proving unpopular with customers.

  D Smithson's shareholders expect a quick return on their investments.

  《Department store magic》,字面上是百貨公司的魔力。講的是英國的一個百貨公司如何擺脫困境。第一段是點明公司所遭遇的困境,接著第二段講一個女CEO上臺開始轉變局面,第三段和第四段具體講這位女CEO的應對措施,最后一段總結:革命尚未成功,同志仍需努力。

  13題,問在90年代中期這個百貨公司的情況是什么樣的。答案是第一段的最后一句:its customers were buying fewer and fewer of its own-brand products, the major part of its business, and showing a preference for more fashionable brands.這個題目的答案有相當的迷惑性。整個句子都是在講客戶購買的越來越少,偏好更多的時尚品牌。所以很容易誤選A,但實際上這里并沒有說虧損。關鍵是這個地方:its own-brand products, the major part of its business。自由品牌仍然是公司業務的主要部分。所以應該選D:主要銷售Smithson名下的產品。Under the Smithson’s name也就是its own brand products。

  14題,問Smithson的利潤從三年前開始增長,原因是什么。答案是第二段的這么一句:she took the bold decision to invite one of Europe's most exciting interior designers to develop the fashion area她做出了一個大膽的決定,邀請了歐洲最刺激的室內設計師來開發時尚領域。后面緊接著就說This very quickly led to rising sales,所以答案選C:Rowena Baker的設計師選擇。

  15題,問當Rowena Baker加入時公司面臨的一個問題是什么。這題的關鍵是要理解一個句子中一個詞的含義:It provided a traditional service targeted at middle-aged, middle-income customers, who'd been shopping there for years, and the customer base was gradually contracting.。它提供的傳統服務目標人群是中年中等收入者,這些人已經在那購物多年。并且客戶基數逐漸減少。Contracting:縮小,收縮的意思。所以答案選A。

  16題,問很多員工反對Baker計劃的原因是什么。答案是這么一句:many employees resisted her improvements because they just wouldn't be persuaded that there was anything wrong with the way they'd always done things。不愿意被說服他們以前做事情的方式有什么問題。意思也就是不愿意改變他們工作的方式。選A。

  17題,問Baker改變員工政策的原因是什么。答案在第四段,Baker的原話:How can you sell jeans if you're wearing a black suit? Smithson's has a new identity, and this needs to be made clear to the customers。你怎么能穿著黑西服賣牛仔?Smithson有一個新的身份,這些必須對客戶很明確。也就是C選項說的“客戶必須能辨別出服務他們的員工”,A不對,沒有提到改善公司形象,B和C在原文沒有提到。

  18題,問John認為Smithson面臨的問題是什么。答案是最后一段的最后一句:The fact is that unless she opens several more stores pretty soon, Smithson's profits will start to fall because turnover at the existing store will inevitably start to decline.事實上除非她盡快的開更多的店,Smithson的利潤將會減少因為現有商店的營業額將不可避免的開始下降。也就是B所說的除非擴張,公司的利潤才會繼續增長。

(編輯:何瑩瑩)

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