Case Studies Successful Turnarounds of Stressed Accounts

Successful turnarounds of stressed accounts often involve a combination of strategic planning, financial restructuring, and operational improvements. Here are a few case studies that highlight different approaches and solutions:

Case Study 1: General Motors (GM)

Background: General Motors, one of the largest automotive manufacturers in the world, faced severe financial difficulties during the 2008 financial crisis. The company struggled with high debt levels, declining sales, and increasing competition.


  • Massive debt burden
  • Inefficient operations and high production costs
  • Declining market share


  1. Government Bailout: In 2009, GM received a $50 billion bailout from the U.S. government, which included loans and equity investments.
  2. Bankruptcy and Restructuring: GM filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, allowing it to restructure its debt and operations.
  3. Operational Efficiency: The company closed unprofitable plants, laid off workers, and renegotiated labor contracts to reduce costs.
  4. Product Focus: GM refocused on producing more fuel-efficient and innovative vehicles, investing heavily in electric and autonomous vehicles.


  • GM emerged from bankruptcy in 2010 as a leaner, more efficient company.
  • The company returned to profitability, repaying a significant portion of the bailout money.
  • GM regained market share and improved its financial stability.

Case Study 2: Apple Inc.

Background: In the late 1990s, Apple was on the brink of bankruptcy due to declining sales, poor product strategy, and intense competition.


  • Poorly performing product lines
  • Lack of innovation and market direction
  • Financial losses


  1. Leadership Change: Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, bringing a renewed vision and leadership.
  2. Product Innovation: Apple streamlined its product line and focused on innovation, launching successful products like the iMac, iPod, and eventually the iPhone.
  3. Brand Revitalization: Apple invested heavily in marketing and branding, emphasizing design and user experience.
  4. Strategic Partnerships: Apple formed a strategic partnership with Microsoft, which included a $150 million investment from Microsoft and a commitment to continue developing Office for Mac.


  • Apple’s innovative products became market leaders, driving significant sales and revenue growth.
  • The company transformed into a technology giant with a strong brand and loyal customer base.
  • Apple’s market capitalization soared, making it one of the most valuable companies in the world.

Case Study 3: LEGO Group

Background: In the early 2000s, LEGO faced a financial crisis due to declining sales, high costs, and a lack of focus.


  • Over-diversification and loss of core focus
  • High operational costs
  • Decreasing sales and profitability


  1. Leadership Change: Jørgen Vig Knudstorp was appointed CEO in 2004 and implemented significant changes.
  2. Back to Basics: LEGO refocused on its core product, the traditional LEGO brick sets, and scaled back on unrelated ventures.
  3. Cost Reduction: The company streamlined operations, reduced workforce, and improved supply chain efficiency.
  4. Innovation and Collaboration: LEGO introduced new product lines and collaborations with popular franchises like Star Wars and Harry Potter.


  • LEGO returned to profitability and regained its position as a leading toy manufacturer.
  • The company saw significant growth in sales and market share.
  • LEGO’s brand and product innovation continued to drive its success.

Case Study 4: Starbucks

Background: In 2008, Starbucks was struggling with declining sales, overexpansion, and a weakening brand identity.


  • Overexpansion leading to market saturation
  • Declining customer experience
  • Financial losses


  1. Leadership Change: Howard Schultz returned as CEO in 2008 to revitalize the company.
  2. Store Closures: Starbucks closed underperforming stores and halted new openings to reduce costs and focus on quality.
  3. Reinvestment in Core Values: The company refocused on improving customer experience, employee training, and product quality.
  4. Digital Innovation: Starbucks invested in digital initiatives, including mobile ordering and payment systems, to enhance customer convenience.


  • Starbucks returned to profitability and experienced renewed growth.
  • The company’s brand reputation improved, and customer loyalty increased.
  • Starbucks expanded successfully into international markets, further boosting its growth.

These case studies demonstrate that successful turnarounds often require decisive leadership, a clear strategic vision, and a willingness to make difficult decisions.

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