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Kraft gears up for spinoff with sales realignment, workforce reduction

BY Allison Cerra

NORTHFIELD, Ill. — Realigning U.S. sales, consolidating U.S. management centers and streamlining corporate and business unit organizations are on the to-do list of Kraft Foods as it prepares to spin off its business in two independent public companies before the end of the year.

"When we announced our decision to create two world-class companies last August [the grocery and global snacks businesses], we said both would be leaner, more competitive organizations," Kraft Foods chairman and CEO Irene Rosenfeld said. "For the past year, the North American team has been working to streamline operations to deliver sustainable top-tier performance and continue to invest in our iconic brands. We’re confident that this transformational work will improve effectiveness and fuel the future growth of both companies."

The following changes will be implemented:

  • Realigning U.S. sales structure to create more focused teams, which are expected to be in place by April 1, so each company can customize its approach to in-store sales and execution to maximize impact;

  • U.S. management center locations will be reduced from four to two. This includes the relocation of the beverages business unit in Tarrytown, N.Y., and the Planters brand in East Hanover, N.J., to the Chicagoland area by December 2012 and the closure of the Glenview, Ill., management center by the end of 2013. In Canada, both companies will retain sites in the greater Toronto area;

  • With leaner structures for both businesses, Kraft plans to eliminate approximately 1,600 positions throughout the United States and Canada over the next 12 months, primarily from sales, corporate and business unit areas. About 20% of these job eliminations currently are open positions. Planned workforce reductions do not include manufacturing facilities, Kraft Foods noted.

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M&M’s adds new character

BY Allison Cerra

HACKETTSTOWN, N.J. — Move over, Ms. Green. There’s another leading lady coming to the M&M’s clan.

M&M’s announced that its spokescandies, including Red, Yellow, Orange, Green and Blue, will be joined by Ms. Brown, who will debut in an ad premiering during Super Bowl XLVI. M&M’s also is giving people a taste of Ms. Brown on Jan. 30 by unveiling the first images of the new character during special events in Los Angeles and New York, as well on Facebook.

"We’re very excited to introduce Ms. Brown to the world," Mars Chocolate North America chief consumer officer Debra Sandler said. "Now is the time for Ms. Brown to step into the spotlight — and there’s no bigger spotlight than Super Bowl Sunday."

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Passage Foods, Beth Hillson enter recipe partnership

BY Allison Cerra

COLLINSVILLE, Conn. — A maker of international cooking sauces has teamed up with the founder of the Gluten-Free Pantry brand to develop a range of recipes for those seeking gluten-free meal solutions.

Passage Foods said its partnership with Beth Hillson, who was diagnosed with celiac disease in 1976 and also serves as president of the American Celiac Disease Alliance and recently penned "Gluten-Free Makeovers," will help cater to time-starved consumers who want home cooked meals that are nutritious, healthy and gluten free.

"We are very excited to now be working with Beth and tap her culinary brilliance in developing exciting easy-to-prepare recipes for consumers with the Passage Foods cooking sauce range," said Passage Foods’ Mark MacKenzie. "Beth is truly an artist in gluten-free cooking and with our international culinary chef team based in Melbourne, Australia, we look forward to bringing exciting new meal ideas to our dedicated Passage Foods consumers worldwide."

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