The business acumen simulation for retailers

Retail Challenge
the business acumen simulation for retail companies











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RETAIL CHALLENGE replicates a retail business selling three ranges of product with decisions covering markup, purchasing, advertising, staffing and supplier payment.

This simulation is one of a range of business acumen simulations exploring the issues facing manufacturing, service, retail, distribution, banking, training, professional services and not-for-profit industries.

The development of this simulation was sponsored by BAT (UK and Export) as part of their Middle East Management Challenge Initiative.

“The day was a fantastic success with great feedback. The program ran very smoothly ... all teams had to consider profit and balance sheet management, something that is being increasingly pushed at Boots. This worked really well. Feedback from the delegates was very positive. They found the simulation to be fun.” Boots

“The simulation was exactly what we needed!” Winn-Dixie

Summary Description

Key Learning




Ways of Use

Walk through how this simulation might be used on your course.


KEY LEARNING: This business simulation covers these issues:

This business simulation is designed to be used by your trainers.

Learn more about running a business simulation yourself.

DURATION: Approximately one day (although they can be run, in an accelerated manner, in half a day).

TARGET AUDIENCE: The simulation is designed to be used by trainees, junior management to middle management, functional specialists and supervisors. Or, abbreviated or with additional tasks, with senior management.

METHOD: After a short briefing the training group is divided into several teams of four or five participants. These teams consider the problem facing them and then make a series of decisions that are fed, by the tutor, into a microcomputer that simulates their effect. The results are returned for the team to analyse before making their next decisions. This decision-making cycle is repeated for at least six periods. At the end of the simulation phase the teams reunite to discuss and compare results.

NUMBER OF TEAMS: The simulation may be used with between two and eight teams that compete and interact directly with each other.

HARDWARE REQUIREMENTS: A single PC and printer for each group of two to eight teams (each of four or five participants).

The simulation uses an advanced simulator that supports tutoring, provides for ease of use and will run on all Windows operating systems from Windows 98 thorough Windows 8.



The simulation involves running a complete retail business with decisions covering percent markup, product range purchases, numbers of selling staff, advertising and the time taken to pay suppliers.


During the simulation, participants will be concerned with creating a profitable, growing business that survives. They will develop an understanding of business purpose, how this is influenced by their decisions and how the objectives and measures interact.

Participants without management experience may be especially challenged by the need to deal with ambiguity and make decisions without perfect information and, where, some information is provided as qualitative comments about the business.


The simulation introduces participants to financial fundamentals (Profit & Loss Account, the Balance Sheet, cash flow and key ratios).

Optionally, using the work sheets provided, participants can test their understanding by preparing the financial reports manually.

For more advanced use, advanced versions (Progressive and Compleat) provide information on break-even, profit analysis and economic value added.


The retail outlet sells three ranges of products (staples, fashion and big ticket) each with different sensitivities to price and needs in terms of variety and selling support. Besides passing trade, teams must decide how much to spend on advertising to promote their business. Finally, teams must consider competitors' actions and the financial and operational consequences of their pricing decisions.

Optionally, using the tutor's audit, the trainer running the simulation can provide market research.


Although only selling three ranges, participants need to decide how each of these contribute to the business's profitability, growth and cash flow. (For more advanced use, an optional report shows each product on a profit or investment centre basis.)


With decisions covering purchasing and changing sales patterns, participants must forecast sales and plan their purchases and inventory levels. This must take into account the uncertainties of the impact of marketing decisions, competitive actions, the dynamics of the market-place, seasonal sales patterns and the cost of holding inventory.


With participants working in small teams, they have the opportunity to share experience and knowledge, present and promote different viewpoints, develop time management and their people skills.


Optionally, at the end of the simulation, teams can be asked for make a formal board presentation covering objectives, strategies, process, the future (of the simulated business) and learning.


This simulation is available for company training on a per course rental basis (rather than on a per participant basis) and for academic (university) and school use on a per course and an annual unlimited use basis. For you convenience you can pay in pounds sterling (£), US Dollars (£) or Euros.

Learn more about the rental process

Training Type



Company Training




Academic (annual use)




School (annual license)





  1. Single company training course is up to 30 participants Beyond that for each group of 30 a copy of the business simulation must be rented.

  2. Rentals in the UK and the European Union will incur VAT (Value Added Tax) at 20%. For the rest of the world VAT is not charged.

  3. Company Training use is invoiced after successful use.

  4. Academic use up to first degree level and school use is free - see School and University Use.


This business simulation can be used:


Documentation is provided separately for the UK and US Versions MS Word format and comprises:

A Participants' Manual that provides, for the participants. a description of the simulation, a description of their task and how to use the software.

The Background Notes describe the simulation for the trainer. (Please contact us for copies of these)

The Decision Forms are the forms used to communicate a team's decisions to the trainer.

The Work Sheets are optional and are provided to allow participants to create manually the financial reports from the Preliminary Results and the Previous Period's Results.

The Reporting Pack documents the reports produced by all versions of the simulation. (Our design approach means that it is very easy to change these reports to reflect those your company/industry uses, training needs and business issues.)

Using the Simulator provides, for the trainer (and computer support staff), information about installing the simulation and the use of the software.

Running the Simulation provides, for the trainer, information about running the simulation.

Briefing is a MS Power Point briefing explaining the simulation to the participants. (You may find it useful if you review this before reading the briefs.)

UK Versions US Versions
Participants' Manual Download size 74k bytes Download size 74k bytes
Decision Forms Download size 23k bytes Download size 28k bytes
Work Sheets Download size 30k bytes Download size 33k bytes
Reporting Pack Download size 93k bytes Download size 95k bytes
Using the Simulator
Running the Simulation Download 98k Bytes Download 98k Bytes
Briefing Download 38k Bytes Download 38k Bytes


This is provided to allow you to download an evaluation version of the Retail Challenge simulation flash drive or folder.

The table below shows the files to download, their description and size. Once all files are downloaded, navigate to the folder of flash drive and run setup.exe. The program will then install.

Note: When downloading the setup.lst file you must right click and then select Save As. (If you left click the file will open - this is a feature of Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8.)

File Description Size
setup.exe Installation Program 137 Kbytes
Setup.lst Installation Data 5 Kbytes Simulator Files 2357 Kbytes

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© 2001 Jeremy J. S. B. Hall

Most recent update: 10/04/15
Hall Marketing, Studio 11, Colman's Wharf, 45 Morris Road, London E14 6PA, ENGLAND
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