Read the case study. Develop a variance report based on the format and template provided by Houzit.

‘Will we be able to maintain our gross profit margins in the predicted downturn?’

Jim and you both agreed that it had been a tough quarter with the economy still in recession and the impact this was having on the retail sector. Banks are raising interest rates in line with the increased upward international pressure and Houzit has a significant part of their loan funds on a variable interest rate which changes directly with market conditions. Jim was pleased that the sales seem to be holding up reasonably well as first quarter results are generally impacted by factors relating to public and school holidays but he was concerned about the discounts that had to be given to generate these sales.

‘That’s going to hurt us at some point’ Jim said. ‘Just a pity we could not get into some national magazines this quarter to promote the store offers. I’m sure that would have helped us exceed the budgets you set. I guess we will just have to spend that advertising money in the next quarter’ Jim said. ‘I still think we are running our wages and salaries a bit high. The industry benchmark for wages and salaries is close to 11% of sales’

Jim went on to explain, ‘One of our contingency plans in a slowing economy is to reduce our exposure to debt by applying our profits to the repayment of the long term debt. This will help reduce the interest burden on the business and take some pressure off the diminishing profits. It would also be of interest to determine the impact that our debtors has on the cash flow of the business from 2010/11.’

You are a beneficiary of the company’s profit bonus scheme that is based on the profitability of the company’s financial reports which you are required to prepare. You also prepare the departmental reports that form the basis of the performance review of the managers. You are the manager of the finance/administration and prepare this department’s report as well.

You met that afternoon with Celina and she provided you with the following report on the actual results for the quarter ended 30 September 2011.

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