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Curriculum Center Browse Bibliography Build EPacket Pricing Structure Distribution Process Management Control in Nonprofit Organizations
Import Distributors
Young, David W.
Functional Area(s):
   Management Accounting
   For Profit
Difficulty Level: Beginner
Pages: 2
Teaching Note: Available. 
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First Page and the Assignment Questions:

Import Distributors, Inc. (IDI), imported appliances and distributed them to retail appliance stores in the Rocky Mountain states. IDI carried three broad lines of merchandise: audio equipment (tuners, tape decks, radios, etc.), television equipment (including DVD and BluRay recorders), kitchen appliances (refrigerators, freezers, and stoves that were more compact than standard U.S. models). Each line accounted for about one-third of total IDI sales revenues.  Although each line was referred to by IDI managers as a "department," until now the company had not prepared departmental income statements.

Late last year, departmental accounts were set up in anticipation of preparing quarterly income statements by department starting in the current year. In early April of this year, the first such statements were distributed to the management group. Although in the first quarter IDI had earned net income amounting to 4.3 percent of sales, the television department had shown a gross margin that was much too small to cover the department’s operating expenses (see Exhibit 1).

The television department’s poor showing prompted the company’s accountant to suggest that perhaps the department should be discontinued. The accountant explained:

This is exactly why I proposed that we prepare departmental statements--to see if each department is carrying its fair share of the load.

This suggestion led to much discussion among the management group, particularly concerning two issues: First, was the first quarter of the year representative enough of longer-term results to consider discontinuing the television department? And second, would discontinuing television equipment cause a drop in sales in the other two departments? One manager, however, stated,

Even if the quarter was typical and the other sales wouldn’t be hurt, I’m still not convinced we’d be better off dropping our television line.


  1. 1.What action should be taken with regard to the television department?