Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 4th 2015 Contents SBG12 CASE STUDY
SUNDAY BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt JANUARY 4 • 2015
The following guide is
intended to aid readers in
analysing the case The
Curry King. When
analysing a case, remem-
ber that there are many
possible approaches and
solutions and the goal is
to develop your analytical and problem-solving
skills rather than figure out "the one right
Marcus Holder, the owner of The Curry
King, was seriously considering the suggestion
made by one of his larger customers to expand
the scale of his business and focus more heavily
on his catering operations. While he was happy
with the level of sales he currently had, he
was excited by the thought of further expansion
and felt he had an opportunity to be known
as not only the "Curry King" of St Augustine
but, eventually, the entire country.
At the same time, however, he was worried
that such growth could negatively impact the
reputation of his business if not managed
properly. Expanding the catering service would
mean hiring more staff, acquiring a suitable
vehicle and expanding the physical space to
accommodate a larger kitchen. While Marcus
felt confident he could borrow the money in
order to expand, he was reluctant to incur
debt even though there was the potential for
He would also have to evaluate the logistics
of transporting fresh food to his customers in
an efficient manner, especially those orders
that were outside the St Augustine area.
Q1. What are the key characteristics
of the various consumer segments
that the company seeks to target?
The Curry King caters to both retail cus-
tomers and customers who need catering serv-
ice for an event they are hosting. Retail cur-
rently provides a larger share of revenue but
the catering business is growing at a rapid
pace. Customers for both segments are pro-
fessionals who want quality food and are
willing to pay premium prices.
The ambiance of the roti shop is important
to retail customers while customers requesting
the catering service will focus more on the
food presentation and level of service provided
by the servers.
Extra care must be taken to ensure that the
food served at catered events is unspoiled and
is of the same quality as customers have come
to expect from the retail outlet. The retail cus-
tomers visit continuously throughout the year
while the catering service is concentrated
around special events and is much more vari-
able in nature. Both customer groups are heav-
ily influenced by word-of-mouth referrals and
the catering service is somewhat dependent
on the existing relationships that the owner
has established with his clientele.
Q2. What are the strengths and
weaknesses of the business and
their implications for sustaining a
The owner of the business is one of its
greatest strengths since he exhibits the moti-
vation and competence needed to achieve suc-
cess in this competitive marketplace. The staff
seem committed to the business and there is
little turnover but the increase in sales has
placed significant strain on the existing per-
sonnel to keep pace and this needs to be
addressed by hiring additional employees who
can relieve the burden of filling multiple orders.
Marcus also needs to think of succession
planning and perhaps promoting one of his
employees to a supervisory position so that
he can focus more on developing strategies
for growth rather than being so involved in
the day to day operations.
The Curry King enjoys a positive reputation
and brand awareness is high among the target
audience. The radio ads and word-of-mouth
seems to be a cost effective and successful
way to reach the target market. The ambiance
of the roti shop also differentiates it from
competitors and supports charging a higher
than average price.
Cash flow does not appear to be a problem
and the business has ready access to financing
from the bank which means it is in a position
to fund further growth without much difficulty.
The reliance on a family member to prepare
the accounts without any oversight however,
while convenient to the owner, is not a prudent
practice since this leaves the business vulner-
able to fraudulent activity. A more formal
auditing process will need to be implemented
as the business expands.
The business is operating at full capacity
and seems to be producing a quality product
even though there are no formal quality control
and inventory systems in place.
This could be a potential problem as the
business grows since it will be difficult to
maintain the currently high standards without
implementing some formal method of oversight
Managing the logistics involved with the
catering service is also an area where the busi-
ness has limited experience and may prove
challenging as further expansion takes place.
Q3. What strategies should Marcus
Holder pursue in order to grow the
The easiest option is for the owner to con-
tinue with the status quo and continue to
gradually expand and develop the retail side
of the business.
The customer base is showing steady growth
as the reputation of the business spreads which
indicates further sales potential as brand aware-
ness increases. The obvious limitation of this
strategy is that it forsakes a lucrative oppor-
tunity to expand into a high growth niche and
does not maximise the company s short-run
Expanding the catering business is attractive
from both a financial and personal standpoint.
The fact that customers are demanding this
service suggests that there is an unmet need
in the market that the business can satisfy.
Expansion will however require that formal
management policies and procedures are insti-
tuted so that operations can be streamlined.
A system of staff training will also have to be
introduced to ensure that the quality of the
product and service is consistently high.
Given the attractiveness of expanding the
catering service, the owner may decide to pur-
sue this opportunity by expanding his physical
facilities and purchasing the vehicles needed
to make deliveries or opting to use another
company to handle physical distribution. Han-
dling the entire expansion in-house allows
him to retain all the profits generated and
facilitates better control over the operations
of the business.
This approach poses some risk since the
company does not have any experience man-
aging the logistics required to ensure efficient
product delivery and would also require the
manager to oversee a much larger workforce
than currently employed.
An alternative strategy may be to hire a
company that is dedicated to making deliveries
and can ensure that the freshness of the prod-
uct is not compromised. This company will
also allow for more rapid expansion since the
owner can focus on producing the high quality
items that the company is known for and not
have to incur the expense of purchasing vehicles
and hiring additional staff.
Retaining the services of the such a company
however, would mean lower profits and drivers
would need to be trained to ensure proper
Ultimately, the strategic decision governing
growth has to take into account the owner s
value system and preferences as well as match
the internal competencies of the business. The
hands on level of control exercised by the
owner and his aversion to debt suggests that
he would be more comfortable growing the
business organically rather than engage in a
significant expansion of the catering service.
The lack of formal internal quality controls
and training systems also poses a risk to the
company s reputation if customer expectations
are not met by the catering operations. In this
instance it may be more prudent for the owner
to adopt a slow and steady approach to growth
rather than rapidly expanding into other areas.
Dr Barney Pacheco is a lecturer in the
Department of Management Studies at
The University of the West Indies, St Augus-
Case preparation guide: The Curry King
Growing your business
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