Safeway appoints chief information officer
PLEASANTON, Calif. — Safeway Inc. announced today Barry Libenson has joined the company as SVP and chief information officer. He succeeds David Ching, who retired from the role earlier this year after 19 years with the company. As CIO, Mr. Libenson will oversee Safeway’s extensive information technology business functions, and he will report directly to Safeway executive vice president Larree Renda. He will assume his responsibilities on July 1, 2013.
Mr. Libenson comes to Safeway from Land O’ Lakes, Inc., where he served since 2010 as senior vice president, CIO. During his tenure with Land O’ Lakes, Mr. Libenson and his team transformed the technology group to ensure IT was fully aligned and executing against the company’s long-term strategic direction. Prior to that, he was VP and CIO at Ingersoll Rand, Co. Ltd., with responsibility for defining and implementing that company’s global electronic and internet business strategies. Mr. Libenson joined Ingersoll-Rand as VP of e-Business in 2001. Prior to his tenure at Ingersoll-Rand, he served as an executive vice president at Surety.com, a data-integrity services company, and chief executive officer for Visix Software, a software publisher. He also held management positions with Phoenix Technologies and Oracle Corporation.
"We are pleased to have someone with Barry’s credentials join our executive team as we look to further ensure our IT organization is aligned with our key business strategies," said Ms. Renda. "His track record managing a complex set of technology functions across a diverse group of companies will be of significant value to the organization."
Mr. Libenson holds a Masters in Business Administration from Duke University and a Bachelor Degree in Computer Science from Colgate University. He has served on the University of North Carolina’s Graduate School of Computer Science IT Advisory Panel as well as Blumberg Capital’s CIO Council. Mr. Libenson also serves as Director of Tavant Technologies, a software firm with offices in California and Bangalore, India.
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Personal care sees solid growth
PARSIPPANY, N.J. — Is the personal care market ripe for acquisitions? Global consulting and research firm Kline & Co. thinks so.
"Clearly, companies continue to emphasize growth agendas and make significant funding available — both strategic and financial sponsors — to realize such aspirations. Such an improving environment is increasingly attractive for mergers and acquisitions and a growing number of smaller, often privately held, cosmetic and toiletry companies are contemplating, developing and/or executing exits. As such, 2013 portends to offer even greater deal flow as many companies look to invest in new growth opportunities," stated Eric Vogelsberg, SVP at Kline’s M&A Advisory, in announcing the findings earlier this year.
While Procter & Gamble maintains its lead in the U.S. personal care market, and other major companies, such as L’Oréal, are enjoying solid growth, smaller companies are making strong headway, according to Kline.
Kline added that, within the presently fertile M&A climate, smaller companies are increasingly attractive acquisition prospects by larger, cashed-up and savvy players. For example, earlier this year, L’Oréal’s CEO Jean-Paul Agon announced that he was ready to make important acquisitions to maintain growth, and this has already been borne out by the recent acquisition of Interconsumer Products, one of Kenya’s largest manufacturers of personal care and beauty products.
Price a primary factor in hygiene purchases
Fortunately, daily hygiene is more or less recession-proof. Thanks to the near universal usage of soap, bath and shower products, this market has been largely unscathed by the weakened economy and is expected to enjoy growth going forward. That being said, consumers have altered their buying habits of such products in recent years, and are looking for value. Manufacturers looking to bolster sales will need to continue to integrate additional benefits.
According to Mintel Group, the U.S. soap, bath and shower market achieved $5 billion in total retail sales in 2012, up 25% from the $4 billion observed in 2007. With the market slated to grow by about 2% to 3% annually, sales of such products are estimated to reach $5.8 billion in total sales in 2017.
But the economy has no doubt left its mark and is impacting how consumers shop. "Consumers are cost-conscious and careful in scrutinizing their spending, particularly for daily use personal care products that require frequent purchase. Mintel’s consumer research reveals that among product purchasers, price is the most important purchase factor when it comes to shopping in this category. Consumers are also trading down to less expensive brands, product formats and turning to private-label offerings in order to save money where possible," Mintel stated in its March 2013 report on U.S. soap, bath and shower products.
Furthermore, Mintel’s research found that some 83% of respondents report that price is important to them when buying such products, followed by 74% citing scent and 68% citing familiar brands.
In order to attract consumers back to branded products, Mintel recommended that manufacturers continue to integrate additional benefits, such as anti-aging or multi-use, as well as positioning the products as "affordable luxuries." The attributes most sought after in soap, bath and shower products are moisturizing and deodorizing.
Manufacturers are heeding the call. For example, playing on the "affordable luxury positioning," personal care brand Calgon — known for its iconic "Calgon, Take Me Away!" tagline — recently announced the launch of four new fragrances within its Classic Calgon and Sensual collections, as well as a complete re-launch of its packaging. The brand also upgraded its collection of body creams and body washes with nourishing shea butter.
For parents looking for children’s products with added benefits, the creators of Mr. Bubble recently launched multi-use formulas — Bubble Bath Mr. Bubble Original Bubble and Extra Gentle 3-in-1 Body Wash, Shampoo & Conditioners.
So, what’s ahead? "Soap, bath and shower products are a key product for maintaining one’s hygiene and form the foundation for a personal care routine," Mintel stated. "The greater integration of additional cosmetic and functional benefits will be important to drive accelerated market growth in the coming years and recapture growing consumer interest in private label and lower cost product offerings."
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