Security staff deserted their jobs and over 600

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and other statutory dues were not paid. Security staff deserted their jobs and over 600 stores were vandalised in November-December 2008. "We desperately worked with various stakeholders to put something together to prevent a collapse. All we needed then was Rs 125 crore to be back in shape. Between September and November 2008, we had four meetings of the collective financial stakeholders. But unfortunately it was a period when liquidity was tight. Investors, too, could not do much as the markets were crazy," rues Subhiksha's founder, adding, "In a way we got into trouble at the wrong time." By end-February 2009 operations came to a standstill. Says Subramanian, "At this stage, everybody's reaction was emotional. There were people who said we should have been more careful in managing our money, which is perfectly right, and that we did not have a plan B." Independent directors quit, relations with ICICI Venture soured (it withdrew its nominees from the board and reportedly sought government investigation into the affairs of Subhiksha). Premji and ICICI Venture objected to the merger of Subhiksha with Blue Green Construction Ltd. Cash Flow Management ? Subramanian is now banking on the much-delayed Corporate Debt Restructuring (CDR) process (involving 13 banks with cumulative exposure of over Rs. 800 crore) to bring Subhiksha back to life. "I don't see ourselves getting back to 1,650 stores. We will probably restart about 1,200 stores once the CDR process is through. We should clearly be back in business in the second quarter of the current fiscal", claims Subramanian. He adds: "Regaining the credibility of vendors, lenders, investors and the employees will be the toughest challenge for us." MS-91 5 P.T.O.
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Has the discounted retail model failed ? His response is quick: "Subhiksha's problem was cash flow mismanagement. We ran a profitable business. We were completely overconfident when it came to raising equity. If anybody wants to be a serious grocery player in India, they have to follow our path. The model is eminently successful." Questions: (a) What went wrong with STS ? What do you attribute as the reasons for its collapse ? Elucidate clearly. (b) Did STS have a clear strategy ? What should have been the focus of STS ? What cost STS its business ? (c) Can the company be revived or does revival seem a possibility ? If yes, how, present a plan of action; if no, why (give reasons) ? (d) Was the expansion funding route adopted by STS justified. Give reasons. MS-91 6
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