Ben & Jerry Case
Moreover, their return on assets and equity had kept on decreasing contributing to the fact that the firm is less profitable. Their decreasing net working capital turnover ratio and assets turnover ratio indicated that Ben & Jerry was not utilizing its assets well enough, despite the increase in total assets and net working capital over the 5 years period. Ben & Jerry turnover ratio showed that they used more resources to generate the same level of sales.
Their short term liquidity ratio had improved a bit comparing only 1993 and 1994. However, their spike increase in long term debt to equity ratio in 1994 to 40% meant that the firm had to borrow money from outside to fund their projects. Overall, looking from their financial performance, Ben & Jerry had an unsuccessful year in 1994. Looking deeper, their disappointing profitability in 1994 may be attributed to some external factors such as the change in lifestyle.
The rise of health concern in 1990’s and higher education had led many people to seek for healthy food. Ben & Jerry’s ice cream with its rich flavor and high calorie and fat, thus became less preferable. Consumers had switched to different alternative within snack and candy industry. Secondly, the technological change had made their competitor more efficient in producing ice cream. Meanwhile Ben & Jerry had insisted on keeping their inefficient labor force in their production process.
As a result, their main competitor, Hagen Daz, had gained more market share through price cut when the trend of people eating ice cream had geared toward a low price products instead of high premium ones. Ben & Jerry did not prepare or focus on international market, allowing Hagen Daz to grow its market. Thanks to its R&D team, Ben & Jerry’s products had many unique and rich flavors and was liked by many consumers in term of its flavor keeping the company a competitive advantage over its competitors.
Since the trend of consumers had changed, the company needed to adapt its strategy to survive in the business. The rising of competitors’ market share and the change in life style had threatened Ben and Jerry’s profitability and its survival. Moreover, the company’s policy and value of social responsibility had become a double edged sword as it placed restrictions on its manufacturing process and limited the opportunity for the firm to compete in the market.
To compete and cope with this situation, as Holland, I would, first try to relax some of these restrictions such as replacing labor force with an advanced machine. This is to improve the production efficiency and reduce the cost per unit. Secondly, I would suggest Ben & Jerry to consider vertical integration with its suppliers, milk producers. Since Ben & Jerry only purchased milk from Vinland at a good price, vertical integration would not only ensure the purity of the milk, but also would keep down the cost. This reduced cost per unit would give the firm an extra room for price war.