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Forbes has a piece about Sam Martin,the new CEO of the troubled and bankrupt Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company (A&P), and how he analyzed what was needed for a turnaround of the company.

According to the piece, Martin believes that there are five things always necessary for a retail turnaround, and in A&P’s case, they were all “woefully in need of being addressed.” They include the installation of a strong management team, the strengthening of liquidity, reducing structural and operating costs, improving the value proposition for customers, and enhancing the int=store shopping experience.

Martin, the story says, “was concerned that the situation would deteriorate and that he needed a ‘path to success’ so he could rally the larger team behind his view to success.” He tells Forbes, “It was essential to have an articulated plan available to share robustly around the organization and with all our stakeholders…If (our employees) are not properly armed with the right information, they will give the wrong message – because they’re going to give a message anyway. So getting the right message in the right hands quickly is important and essential to getting off on the right foot and having any chance of success in the outcome.”

Forbes continues, “Leading an organization into and through Chapter 11 or any turnaround is tough stuff. People generally don’t like change and they certainly don’t like uncertain change. Any time an organization goes through this, there are tremendous unknowns and stress. While it’s in no way certain that Martin and his team will be able to help A&P regain its former glory across all of its previous vast distances, they have been clear and consistent in driving the turn-around imperative. That helps a lot.

“The burning imperative is a cornerstone building block and involves creating an understanding among team members what they are supposed to do immediately and how this works with the larger aspirations of the team and the organization. Everything pivots off a business’ mission, vision, objectives, goals, strategies, plans and values.”
KC's View:
The sad reality may be that A&P’s brand equity may be so tarnished after years of neglect and mismanagement that the best Martin and his new management team can do is stop the hemorrhaging and get the company in some sort of shape that makes it an attractive acquisition target ... or makes it more appealing for shareholder Yucaipa to take a controlling position in the company.