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The truant distributor: retain or replace?

Renuka Kamath (Department of Marketing, S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research, Mumbai, India)
Pankaj Agrawal (Alumni of S. P. Jain Institute of Management and Research, Mumbai, India)
Shoaib Ahmed (Alumni of S. P. Jain Institute of Management and Research, Mumbai, India)

Publication date: 16 November 2022


Learning outcomes

This case highlights the challenges faced by a young and inexperienced Area Sales Manager (ASM), early in her career. This is an often-encountered situation by fresh graduates. Through the analysis of the case, the students will be able to: ■ understand challenges a young manager faces in taking over a new, unfamiliar and underperforming territory; ■ analyze and learn to manage data and identify performance gaps in the territory, by selecting the right metrics; ■ learn the factors for evaluating the performance of current intermediaries (distributors); and ■ appreciate the importance of managing all stakeholders – internal team and building a strong relationship with the intermediaries – both distributors and retailers.

Case overview/synopsis

Kavita Kaur, the new Area Sales Manager at Broadway India Pvt. Ltd. (BIPL), had just taken over the Chhattisgarh sales territory in January 2020. Fresh out of a B-school, it was her first job, and her allotted territory was severely lagging growth at only 1%, compared to an all-India country growth at 13% in 2019, over the previous year. The territory was operated by established intermediaries (distributors) with long associations with BIPL. Based on her data analyses of distributors’ performance, Kaur started her retail visit with the highest selling distributor’s area (Sharda Agencies) to confirm her understanding of what the data had shown her. Following her retail visit and a meeting with Sharda Agencies, the situation turned for the worse. An email bordering to a threat from him took her aback. Kaur now had to make a choice to ensure growth in her new territory. Her options were between placating the current distributor or appointing a new one – should she retain or replace? Both had their own risks.

Complexity academic level

This case is intended for use at the postgraduate level in courses such as sales management, channel management and strategic marketing courses, as well as in executive management programs. The case is relevant from the context of channel management in India, where channel intermediaries can be very demanding. The case will give students a practical hands-on decision-making situation, where there are complexities of quantitative and qualitative nature. It will also help young graduates prepare for real life situations where the assigned territory is struggling in performance and a lot is expected from the new recruits.

Supplementary materials

Teaching notes are available for educators only.

Subject code

CSS 8: Marketing.



The authors are thankful to the company on which this case is based, for sharing with us the experiences, data and dilemma when making the sensitive decision to retain or replace the distributor. However, given the sensitive nature of the sales data that the company provided to us and the names of the stakeholders, the company was requested anonymity with its name in the case.

The authors are thankful to Himanshu Agrawal of DIY Food labs Private Limited, for all the support provided in the writing of this case.


Kamath, R., Agrawal, P. and Ahmed, S. (2022), "The truant distributor: retain or replace?", , Vol. 12 No. 4.



Emerald Publishing Limited

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