Little Short Stop: Creating Strategy for a Shifting Industry
(9 pages of text)
In early 2019, the general manager of Little Short Stop Stores, a chain of local, family-owned convenience stores in southwestern Ontario, Canada, was projecting a loss for that year. The loss was due in part to a provincial minimum wage increase to CA$14.00 that came into effect on January 1, 2018, increased from $11.60 in 2017 and $11.40 in 2016. Before this change, the store chain had been exceeding the average industry growth rate by 5 per cent for the previous five years. The general manager had to determine how to respond to mitigate the revenue loss and to ensure the company remained competitive in the future. The company was already operating efficiently and competitively, so the focus would be on increasing revenues. The company was further constrained by its revenue mix. Two-thirds of its revenue was generated by tobacco products and lottery tickets, which had prices set by regulatory bodies. The general manager was open to considering all options for future growth. However, he was constrained by the family firm’s preference to avoid long-term debt and expansion beyond its current geographic boundary.
This case is most appropriate for capstone undergraduate-level strategic and general management courses. It is also highly suited to specialized business courses in small business management and family business management. The case can be positioned later in the course, when students have a more sophisticated understanding of case analysis and a strong grasp of core concepts in strategic management. It lends itself to a holistic evaluation of an overall business and a discussion of what students should consider as possible next steps.The case presents a set of external and internal issues for students to consider, which can dramatically affect the survival of a 50-year-old family firm. After working through the case and assignment questions, students will be able to
- identify the challenges with operating a small, privately-held family firm;
- identify and assess a company’s strategy and current performance, and determine if the existing strategy is aligned with the internal and external environment;
- develop strategies to continue the survival of a small family business while honouring the management preferences of the family shareholders;
- illustrate the strategic impact of government policy changes on small businesses; and
- identify opportunities for strategic action for a family firm over the next two years, considering the challenges that a small business that is owned and operated by family members faces.
Canada, Medium, 2019
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