MBA students take part in capstone case competitionTweet
It’s not easy to find holes in a business that’s performing well. However, that was the challenge facing MBA students during their recent capstone case competition.
Student teams had to choose a retail chain and play the role of consultants making recommendations to the company’s board of directors. On Dec. 9, the nine teams made presentations to a panel of judges, who selected three finalists.
The winning team – with members Michael Madarasz, Daniel Schnitzler, Morgan Smith, Geoffrey Thill and Lu Xia – recommended that big-box retailer Target join forces with discount grocer Aldi on an expansion into France.
“The major retailers in France are focused on price,” Madarasz said. “We feel going at this from a quality perspective is the right approach. French consumers are very quality-conscious.”
Marc Budofsky, Ryan McGarity, Mike Monteverde and Arjun Reddy recommended that Office Depot scale back its U.S. operations, in part based on the conclusion that it’s a lost cause to compete with low-price retailers such as Walmart and Staples. They said emerging markets like Brazil, China, India and Russia offered much more promise for future growth.
“The decline in U.S. employment and the rise of office vacancy rates has led to lower consumer spending and affected the bottom line,” Monteverde said. “The company has depended too much on certain regions, like California and Florida. The unemployment rates are especially high in those states.”
Arijit Auddy, Aubrey Bertin, Steven Nowicki, Christopher White, and Yang Yang said electronics retailer Best Buy, despite the death of longtime rival Circuit City, isn’t exactly without its challenges. Like Office Depot, Best Buy also has trouble competing against low-cost leaders. The team recommended shrinking the store sizes, and reconfiguring merchandise so customers would have to walk further into a store to see the items they need. The team also said Best Buy should focus on salesperson expertise.
“It’s important to have an extremely knowledgeable sales force,” Nowicki said. “This can help turn a customer from someone who would have bought something into a customer who does buy something.”
Judges were: E. Kay Adams ’75, executive for Lockheed Martin in Owego; Ferris Akel ’59, president of Giant Markets in Binghamton; Daniel Babcock, founder and CEO of Modern Marketing Concepts in Kirkwood; Jon Layish ’91, owner and founder of Red Barn Computers in Binghamton, Carl Ernstrom ’61, retired insurance executive; and Michael Zuckerman, partner at the Vestal law firm Levene Gouldin & Thompson, LLP.