Category Archives: CIMA Case Study Feb 2023

CIMA Case Study Feb 2023: The Examiners Report

The February 2023 CIMA case study exams are just around the corner.

Students sitting a case study exam this month should be primed and (almost) ready for exam day! Your pre seen analysis is done, the industry analysis has been ticked off and you should have taken at least one mock exam by the stage.

So now is the ideal time to learn from other students mistakes as CIMA released The Examiners Report from the November case study sitting.

It’s a resource that goes under the radar, but you’d be a fool to over look it as CIMA are essentially giving you free advice on WHAT NOT TO DO on exam day!!

I’ve gone through the OCS, MCS and SCS examiners reports and picked out my key takeaways.

OCS: Fireworks Nov 22 Examiner Feedback

Significant number of candidates gave very poor answers, mainly due to;

  • Lack of application to the scenario, leading to generic, text-book type answers.
  • Lack of clarity and depth in explanations: a focus on identification rather than explanation.
  • Candidates answering the task that they wish they had been asked rather than what had been asked or misreading the task given.
  • Gaps in technical knowledge and understanding in some of the P1 and F1 areas, meaning that some tasks were answered well and others poorly.

You can read the full OCS November 2022 examiners report here.

MCS: Happy Playz Nov 22 Examiner Feedback

The examiner gave feedback around the quality of answers provided by students and stated that basic level 1 answers were summary of content from the syllabus with no real insight or application to the scenario, while at the other end of the spectrum, the advanced level 3 answers were evaluated and applied to the scenario with justification.

While another common pitfall was students not answering the requirement OR students were reluctant to commit themselves to solution/proposal in the fear of a “wrong” answer.

The examiner gives a nice one pager at the end of the report with a list of advice on what to do BEFORE and DURING the exam, you can find the full MCS November 2002 examiners report here.

SCS: Hottayr Nov 22 Examiner Feedback

The SCS report was in a similar format to the MCS report, illustrating the differences between a weak (level 1) and strong (level 3) answer.

  • Recalling syllabus content is helpful, BUT YOU MUST apply it to solving problems presented in the exam.
  • There is no substitute to mock exam practice.
  • If asked for a recommendation, you must justify it. Even if your recommendation is different from the examiner, you will still gain credit for the quality of the justification.
  • Be sure to include real-world examples – low carbon products are discussed widely in the press, so it’s possible to research this easily before exam day.

You can read the full SCS November 2022 examiners report here.

Good Luck with your upcoming case study exam!

CIMA Feb 23 Case Studies: Top 10 Issues

For those students sitting the February 2023 case study exams, you should be well into your pre-seen analysis and have drawn up your initial set of notes on the pre-seen materials.

But what’s next?

Finding a focus to your studies can be overwhelming given the breadth of the syllabus and potential examinable areas.

Identifying the top 10 issues in your CIMA case study exam is a great way to focus your studies and keep things relevant. To help you on your way, these preview videos from Astranti for the OCS, MCS and SCS exams will get you thinking on the flags raised by the pre-seen materials.

CIMA OCS Feb 2023: Fireworks – Top 10 Issues

CIMA MCS Feb 2023: Happy Playz – Top 10 Issues

CIMA SCS Feb 2023: Hottayr – Top 10 Issues

Hopefully they given you some ideas and focus areas for the rest of your February CIMA case study revision.

Good Luck!

CIMA SCS Feb 23: Hottayr

The February 2023 Strategic Case Study (SCS) pre seen materials have been released and you can find them direct from the CIMA website here.

Usually I’d avoid comparing the materials to a load of hot air, but in this case I will make an exception as we given a scenario based around a company called “Hottayr”.

Hottayr are a quoted company that manufacture domestic heating products and you play the role of Senior Manager in the finance department.

I considered putting together a SWOT analysis but after going through the pre-seen materials I thought it’d make sense to tackle one of the main themes I detected – Environmental Issues – and I’d like to look at this through three different lenses so we can gather the facts and information we are told in the pre-seen materials.

Hottayr – Company Profile

Before looking at the challenges they company faces, let’s understand Hottayr’s history and their position in the industry. Below are the main points I have picked up from the pre-seen materials

  • Established in 1952 and floated on the Norland stock exchange in 1967.
  • One of the first companies to enter the market for gas boilers.
  • Hottayr was the first domestic manufacturer to receive a safety award from Norland Gas.
  • They are heavily involved in product development and can be seen as a market leader.
  • Company vision is to “Lead the move towards a zero-carbon world”

Industry Dynamic

The industry and society in general is moving towards a greener footprint and that is reflected in the forecasted trends for global sales of domestic heating devices.

The clear trend is the evolution of Heat Pumps and Solar Thermal Panels that will be replacing the more traditional methods of gas and oil boilers. In the space of 10 years, gas and oil boilers market share will be reduced by around 40% of the whole market and swallowed up by renewable energy sources.

Norland’s government is committed to reducing carbon emissions to zero. Heat pumps are promoted as offering a contribution towards meeting that target. It has been estimated that 20% of Norland’s carbon emissions are attributable to domestic heating.

taken from page 10 of the pre-seen materials

The quote above gives us some specific information around Norland Government’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions to zero. Hottayr should use this information to their advantage, as the Norland government might be offering grants or subsidies to company’s who are working with them to reach a net zero carbon emission foot print.

The clear conclusion here is that Hottayr should be shifting their focus to the development of heat pumps and being seen, as they state their company vision, “to lead the move towards a zero-carbon world”

Social and Environmental Issues

It might be seen an easy path forward, but there are still several social and environmental issues to tackle with the production and widespread use of heat pumps.

There are four news articles at the back of the pre-seen materials and they almost sequentially tell us a story about consumers, their behaviour and their concerns.

The first article lays out the fact that Norland won’t be able to produce 100% renewable energy through solar panels due to the climate and constraints with some housing.

We should only consider solar panels as a supplement to other heating sources.

The following article emphasizes the fact that heat pumps will be able to heat your house all year round regardless of the temperature outside, adding more weight to the product itself in Norland.

Your new heat pump will reduce your family’s carbon footprint and is capable of keeping you warm right through the winter.

The third news article discusses the negative impact of Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) on the environment, which is an important point to consider, as we are told on page 5 of the pre-seen materials that HFC’s are used in heat pumps as a refrigerant. Eeeek!

While the news article continues with the fact there are alternatives that are less harmful to the environment, but there are other drawbacks as propane is highly flammable and ammonia can be poisonous.

Leading us to believe we will need to live with HFC’s in heat pumps.

Hottayr could, however, look to offset their own carbon footprint by developing more green areas in Norland. Planting trees and be a corporate social responsible employer can help negate the effects on HFC’s.

Finally, the fourth news article outlines the intentions of the Norland governments commitment to net-zero by 2040. Which really just sums up what we already know and cements the direction that Hottayr needs to follow.

One of the key facts from the news article is;

This legislation will have a huge impact on many aspects of daily life. For example, the Government will ban the sale of new petrol- and diesel-powered cars by 2035 as one step towards meeting the net-zero target.

Which could point towards the sale of gas boiler’s could also be banned at some point in the next 15-20 years.

CIMA SCS Feb 2023: Astranti Case Study course

Astranti are offering three SCS different courses for the upcoming Hottayr exam in February 2023, so you can pick and choose the level of resources you want. I used Astranti to pass all of my case study exams first time.

CIMA MCS Feb 23: Happy Playz

The February 2023 MCS case study follows a company called Happy Playz – a toy retailer with a chain of retail shops and an online presence. CIMA released the official pre seen materials and you can find them here.

I’ve had time to go through the pre seen materials for Happy Playz, so here is my SWOT analysis.

SWOT Analysis

STRENGTHS – Business Model

As a toy retailer with a physical bricks and mortar presence, my first fear would be the big online players (like Amazon IRL) would be a major obstacle to overcome. As a consumer myself, I would personally browse the physical shops and see if I can find it online cheaper.

That said, I really like the business model of Happy Playz and they seem to setup on a solid foundation. I will summarise a few points that caught my eye;

  • Shop Locations – Happy Playz are located in convenient retail parks, away from the dying high street shops.
  • Inventory System – They have a sophisticated inventory system, ensuring latest toys are available in shops.
  • Staffing – recruitment emphasizes enthusiasm and personality meaning shoppers are more likely to buy in store.
  • Profit Centres – each store is run like a profit centre, with each store manager given a responsibility and authority to offer discounts and use local knowledge for store displays and layout etc.

In order to succeed in this industry and given Happy Plays only have 10% of the market in Westarian, they will need to squeeze out value at every corner and their business model looks very strong on paper.

WEAKNESSES – Retail Parks

image taken from the CIMA MCS November 2022 pre seen materials

A strength can also be a weakness and vice versa.

While I do like the retail park location when compared to the traditional high street stores, there is a news article at the back of the pre seen materials “Westaria Business Daily” that focuses on the rise and all of the retail parks.

You are effectively at the whim of the retail park and how successful they are at attracting footfall. If they fail to fill vacant stores and don’t cater with restaurants and ample parking etc. Happy Playz could see a decline in customers at those locations where the retail park has fallen into decline.


The issuance of a Happy Playz club card on page 24 of the pre seen materials is brilliant news, not only in increasing customer loyalty but the gathering of data and shopping habits of their customers will prove invaluable.

Put simply, the company will track individual members’ purchases from Happy Playz and their browsing histories on the Happy Playz website and will recommend related products for future purchases. A customer who buys a fashion doll, for example, might receive an email about the launch of a new range of outfits for that doll.

There are 800,000 downloads of the mobile app! There will lots of data and customer analytics that Happy Playz will have on their hands, so the efficient use of “Big Data” will help them drive more growth and profitability.

THREATS – Compliance and Toy Safety

The news article on page 23 of the pre-seen materials “Westaria Daily News” is a column on Toy Safety and compliance, which all seems like common sense stuff but there is a red flag here when we are told;

Toys cannot be sold in Westaria unless they meet the safety standards. They must also be free of any obvious threats to safety that are not covered by the standards. The manufacturer is responsible for compliance if the toys were manufactured here. The importer is responsible if the toys were manufactured elsewhere

Couple this fact with the statement made on page 11 of the pre-seen materials, where are we are told that;

The Purchasing Department is responsible for placing orders with manufacturers, many of whom are based overseas.

I view this as Happy Playz are classed as the importer for the majority of their products and therefore are responsible for toy safety standards

While the final two paragraphs seem to dampen the risk on Happy Playz by saying;

Retailers are not specifically required to conduct their own safety tests on toys provided they have received all the necessary assurances that they meet Westarian standards, but many retailers voluntarily conduct tests.

These standards do seem to be effective. Statistics show that most toy-related injuries are caused by people tripping or slipping on toys

But I still see this an area of concern and potentially it came be turned into a competitive advantage, if Happy Playz were to setup their own internal quality control to test, evidence and document there safeguards it can be seen as strength to standout against their competitors.

Parents take safety very seriously when buying toys and games for their children.

CIMA MCS Feb 2023: Astranti Case Study course

I used the full Astranti MCS case study course to pass the MCS exam first time many years ago, it’s packed with resources and tutor support, the full package contains;

  • Pre seen materials pack (analysis, top 10 issues, industry examples & 30 questions)
  • 5 x mock exams with feedback
  • 3 x LIVE and recorded master classes
  • Syllabus theory revision series
  • Exam technique series
  • Ethics and questions packs
  • Tutor feedback
  • Pass guarantee & money back guarantee

CIMA OCS Feb 23: FireWorks

The pre-seen materials have been released for the upcoming CIMA February 2023 OCS exam, it’s based on a scenario called FireWorks – a company that designs and manufactures a range of outdoor grills – you can find the official pre-seen materials from CIMA here.

I’ve always found the ideal starting point for your OCS exam preparation is to make a SWOT analysis.

If you can identify the strengths and weaknesses in the scenario you will have focus areas for the next six weeks.

I have gone through the pre-seen materials this morning and made my own SWOT analysis on FireWorks.

SWOT Analysis

STRENGTHS – Human Resources

The first thing that struck me was the brilliant induction program for new joiners, in fact it’s a company I would personally want to work for! Hiring and retaining the right talent in a business is often under-rated and not given as much attention as it should.

But it seems FireWorks have a very well oiled machine here. We are told the Human Resources director works very closely with the Finance and Production directors (both of who have been with the company for a long time) and it seems their enthusiasm for the company filters all the way down.

There is an extract from the Employee Induction Manual from page 12 onwards in the pre-seen materials and the key point for me was;

Although you are employed to work in a specific department, it is important that you know how
FireWorks grills are made (yes, even if you work in an administrative or delivery role!)

It’s a small gesture but it’s important that employees understand and can feel a connection to the product and company itself. It goes a long way in keeping the best employees connected and motivated.

WEAKNESSES – Budgeting and Costing Methods

As usual with the OCS exam, we are told that the budgeting and costing methods employed are of a basic nature.

The company operates a standard absorption costing system using departmental overhead
absorption rates based on either direct labour hours or machine hours.

Budgets are prepared annually on an incremental basis. Operational managers have limited
involvement in budget setting.

It’s important you know the theory behind the different costing methods – absorption, marginal, activity based costing etc. And that you can relate it back to the FireWorks scenario, it’s an easy subject for the examiner to question, so I’d strongly recommend you cover this theory again from CIMA P1 paper.

Same with budgeting too.

We are told FireWorks use an incremental system with limited involvement from the operational managers, which is an old fashioned and pretty easy method to employ but there are plenty of disadvantages and you should be able to articulate the pro’s and cons as well as the alternative options to incremental budgeting.

OPPORTUNITIES – Smart Technology

The news articles at the back of the pre-seen materials tend to be packed with juicy nuggets of gold that could point to a question on exam day, or give you some ammunition to reference back to when writing your answer.

The news article in “Living Life Outside” is based on future trends and the mention of Smart Technology caught my eye. As FireWorks consider themselves to be one of the market leaders and known for quality and durable products, they should also be at the forefront of technology and Smart Grilling.

I was also given a sneak peek at some of the other developments they were working on, including better temperature controls, easier cleaning grills and smart technologies which would allow you to control your grill from your phone.

THREATS – Consumer Spending Patterns

The opening paragraph on page 7 of the pre-seen materials tells us “Each of our grills is fitted with the best components available and designed to provide the ultimate outdoor cooking experience.”

It’s clear that FireWorks are positioning themselves as a top quality brand with 10 year product guarantees etc. and these products won’t be cheap to consumers!

There is a real threat that negative consumer spending patterns could hurt their financials.

Much like we are seeing now the cost of energy crisis in real life, who, realistically would be looking to buy a luxurious grill for the garden when they are struggling to pay the bills?

Also the seasonality of the grilling industry means there is a big emphasis on making big gains during the Spring and Summer when consumers are in the market for a new grill.

CIMA OCS Feb 2023: Astranti Case Study course

I used the full Astranti OCS case study course to pass the OCS exam first time many years ago, they have improved the course even further since then. The course includes;

  • Pre seen materials pack (analysis, top 10 issues, industry examples & 30 questions)
  • 5 x mock exams with feedback
  • 3 x LIVE and recorded master classes
  • Syllabus theory revision series
  • Exam technique series
  • Ethics and questions packs
  • Tutor feedback
  • Pass guarantee & money back guarantee