Hallstead Jewelers Case Study

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Submitted by Yellow Team
Eunice King
Ronda Klassen
Joshua Krupnick
Larry McCraw
Ronald Mills

BUS 5431 Managerial Accounting
Professor Nancy Shoemake
April 18, 2010

Hallstead Jewelers was one of the largest jewelry and gift stores in the United States for 83 years. Customers came from throughout the region to buy from extensive collections in each department. Any gift from Hallstead’s had an extra cache attached to it as they were known for having the best. Even though the principal retail shopping areas shifted two blocks west, Hallstead’s reputation and selection still brought in customers. In 1999 however, sales became stagnate and profits were starting to slip. The owners (two sisters, Gretchen and Michaela) made several changes in an effort to revitalize the store back to its full glory. The largest decision they made was to move the stores location, expanding it by 50% more space and selling staff. This move resulted in a five-year lease as well as extensive and expensive renovations. They also made some changes in product offerings and offered more sales potential at the cost of minor reductions in margins. During the year it took to complete the Hallstead’s renovation the industry started showing major changes toward internet based jewelry sales. Tiffany & Company, a business with an origin much like Hallstead Jewelers, grew into an international powerhouse. At the same time, a start-up internet seller, Blue Nile, became the second largest diamond seller in the U.S. While Hallstead’s was growing their fixed costs by doubling their rent payments, Tiffany and Blue Nile were increasing their revenue with “virtual” storefronts allowing them to increase sales with very little increase in expense. In an effort to explore ideas in strategy that would return the business to profitability, the sisters compiled some questions for their accountant to analyze using some additional operating statistics. The following answers will take a deeper look into the mechanics of the business and provide Gretchen and Michaela with recommendations to get their business back on track. 2.0Changes in Breakeven and Margin of Safety

The following table shows that while the breakeven in both sales dollars and number of sales tickets has continued to rise from 2003, to 2004, and to 2006, the margin of safety has decreased over the same period of time. What caused this change?

3.0Reduction in Price
One idea the consultant had was to reduce prices to bring in more customers. The following table illustrates that by reducing prices 10% and increasing sales to 7,500 tickets, the company’s operating income significantly decreases, losing an additional $580K over the previous year’s income/loss. Breakeven in sales tickets is 9,337 – an increase of 1,832 from the previous year. Breakeven in sales dollars increases $1.47 million to a total of $13.12 million needed.

4.0Elimination of Sales Commissions
Another idea that Gretchen had was to eliminate sales commissions even though both her Grandfather and Father insisted that commissions were one of the reasons for their success in the past. The figure below illustrates that the elimination of sales commission greatly affects operating income. By eliminating the sales commission in a projection of the three previously reported years, we can see that operating income is in the positive for all three periods. Although Gretchen’s father and grandfather perceived commission to give them a competitive edge, calculations prove that the commission payments are definitely hurting Halstead’s bottom line. Further consideration should be given to eliminate them if possible.

Michaela felt that a bigger store could benefit from greater advertising and suggested that advertising be increased by $200,000. If advertising expenses were increased by $200,000, the breakeven point in both sales dollars and sales tickets would increase. For...
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