The Sara Lee Corporation is a global retail chain focused on the fast moving consumer goods market. It deals in the sale of various food, beverage, beauty products, household furniture and a variety of other commodities. Its headquarters are in Illinois in the United States of America but its international operations are run from Utrecht, in the Netherlands. Sara Lee has stores in over 40 countries around the world and its brands of food and beverages: mostly dry or frozen products are sold in more than 170 countries. Its services and products are spread throughout five major branches of operation namely North American Fresh Bakery, North American Retail, North American Foodservice, International Beverage and International Bakery. The company is also the holder of many brand names such as Ball Park, DouweEgberts, Hillshire Farm, Jimmy Dean, Senseo and Sara Lee.
However the company has been at the centre of some problems especially relating to its governance and the policies that it has adopted. It has also faced criticism over some social issues such as the rights of its workers and the effect that the company’s operations have had on the environment.
The biggest problem that faces the company has been the decline of investor confidence in its stock. This has been credited to various decisions that the leaders of the company have made especially regarding the sale of many of its operations and the speculation that many more will be handed over to new owners. The sale of these assets was a plan that was meant to streamline operations and centralize the company’s dealings. The company sold their meat processing and clothing manufacture operations in Europe, followed by their direct sales businesses to Tupperware: a Florida based home products retailer. Uniliver and Group Bimbo also acquired the body care products and bakery departments of the company.
The sale of these assets meant that the corporation gained an increase in its asset base in terms of money but the overall revenue dropped as they were losing key sources of income. This saw the company’s share price and dividends per share drop. This has meant that investors have become wary of putting their money into the company for fear of insufficient returns.
In order for the company to solve this problem, it must focus less on the short term strategies of acquiring liquid assets and rather try to find a way to retain as much of its revenue sources as possible letting go of only the least viable and hard to maintain branches. Even though this strategy would mean that the company might not experience major growth in the short term, in the long term this will serve to gain investor confidence as well as retaining the company’s size and scale of operations: if managed well the company’s assets can be streamlined without cutting off a big part of its operations.(Serdarevic)
Some other problems that have faced the company such as the concern over its operations’ impact on the environment are issues that can be dealt in-house through the changing of the processes and policies that the company uses. For example the company must have a general environmental policy that states its motives and commitment to ensuring that its operations are environmentally friendly.(Climate Counts)
The company does provide good and adequate information on its website. A user can easily navigate to their website and learn a lot about the various operations that the corporation is conducting all over the world including its store locations its products and what projects the company is involved in.
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