The Independent Management Game 1994: Contest hots up in late stages

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The Independent Online
COMPETITION is becoming increasingly fierce as the Independent Management Game enters the final stages of the semi-final round. The leader of each of the five groups is being closely challenged by at least one other team, writes Roger Trapp.

With the recession in the United States biting deeply, the competitors are being forced to concentrate on Europe.

However, United Distillers - one of the two teams that we are following closely - continues to do well. Its share price of Ecu 1.52 still puts it at the top of its group, though one of the two teams of the sponsor, National Westminster Bank, is closing the gap. In addition, its share price is below that of other group leaders, BPP Courses, British Gas Eastern and NPI.

Distillers is now running a large company, with six distributors in the European Union, and may be losing control of part of its operation as costly product levels rise.

However, the second team under particular scrutiny, of the Student Industrial Society, seems to be getting more of a grip on its business. But its problems are not yet over.

Although it has turned in its first significant profit, it is being let down by poor forecasting - a key factor for success in the competition. Likewise, while effective marketing has captured more orders than expected, much of its production capacity has stood idle. Its share price of Ecu 1.42 is on a par with that of Norwich Union, one of the group leaders, but well behind that of its own group leader, BPP.

All 30teams are trying to run a medium-sized manufacturing company selling to the European Union and the US. In trying to forecast sales and make the best of financial, human and plant resources, they are pitting themselves against a computer and each other.

The simulation, designed by Edit 515, which organises the competition, takes in all these functions, plus marketing. But to be successful, a team - of up to six people - needs to make good use of teamwork, communication and trust, to cope with a host of other problems.

Six winners of the semi- final go through to a national final to be held in London next month. The winners of that receive pounds 10,000 and the chance to represent Britain in a European final in Lisbon in January.