| Read the following case and answer the questions given at the end : |
The ripple efforts of the 2008 Global Economic meltdown had begun to hurt the Rupees 1,268 crore J. K. Paper Ltd. also. Like all other business houses in India, J. K. Paper Ltd. was also finding the going though. The general trend of soaring prices and contraction in demand had started affecting the sale of J. K. Paper Ltd. products also. Its customers were focusing on correcting their inventory positions (using existing stocks of materials to keep production lines and marketing activities rolling). Consequently, they were not buying much from J. K. Paper Ltd. Even the investors did not like what they saw – J. K. Paper Ltd. stock fell from Rs.57.20 on 1 January, 2008 to a low of Rs.14.12 on 12 March, 2009. The company was in the midst of Economic crisis. Mr. Harshpati Singhania, Managing Director of the Company, realised that some strong measures must be taken to extricate the Company from its present crisis. To this end, Mr. Singhania held several brainstorming sessions with the top management team and finally identified the focus areas : Managing working capital flows, cutting costs and paying attention to employee productivity.
The company has received a firm offer of cooperation from a competitor who is similarly placed in respect of product range. The offer implies the following:
Moving away from the traditional approach one usually follows during the recessionary periods, Mr. Singhania instead of shutting down company’s plants and cutting production, decided to continue to operate the Company’s two plants at Gujarat and Orrisa at 100% capacity. To match sales with production, he planned to reach out to newer customers by widening Company’s distribution network. He identified packaging boards to be marketed in rural areas where the meltdown had minimal effect. As the market conditions were still difficult, the company also decided to cut the prices by 2 to 3 per cent. Alongwith the price cut, its marketing thrust in rural areas ensured that the sales were not impacted much. Net sales remained flat throughout 2008–09, though the profitability of the Company suffered because of the lower margins it received from its rural thrust.
For raising capital, the Company did not approach banks and investors, rather it intensified it efforts to recover its debits from its clients. The efforts resulted in fast recovery of crores of rupees. Disputed debts were also settled expeditiously to raise more cash.
To cut costs further, the Company took steps to improve productivity and reduce its wage bill. Inefficient employees were asked to leave. No new appointments were made unless they were critically important. In addition, employees received lower increments for 2008–09; even Mr. Singhania did not take any increment.
When the global slowdown sent the international prices of the pulp, the main raw material for the paper industry, crashing from Rs.36,960 per tonne in April, 2008 to Rs.18,240 per tonne in September, 2008 the company bought enough pulp to last for about 9 months as against its policy of buying, in the normal course, pulp for about 2–3 months. According to Mr. Singhania, this decision also resulted in a huge saving.
Mr. Singhania and his senior management team also re–evaluated the organisational structure to improve efficiency in the organisation.
When all the above strategic decisions had been successfully implemented, Mr. Singhania knew that the worst for the company was over. This was also reflected in gradual increase in the quarterly profits of the company, Mr. Singhania however sounded very modest about his stewardship of the Company while appreciating his Senior management team for the great job done to ride out the slowdown.
| (a) || Where did the recession hit J. K. Paper Ltd.?  |
| (b) || Explain with reasoning the corporate strategy the Company had adopted for its survival.  |
| (c) || What functional strategies were undertaken by the Company to overcome its crisis?  |
| (d) || State the basic responsibilities of a strategic leader in a business house. Explain whether or not Mr. Singhania provided strategic leadership to the Company.  |
| (e) || What lessons are learnt from the experience of J. K. Paper Ltd. to ride out the economic meltdown?  |