Ben & Jerry Case

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Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc.
Bruner Case Study

Case Summary
This case examines issues of asset control for Ben & Jerry’s Homemade, Inc., in light of the outstanding takeover offers by Chartwell Investments, Dreyer‘s Grand, Unilever, and Meadowbrook Lane Capital in January 2000. The case requires a discussion of fundamental firm objectives and the implications of a non-traditional corporate orientation; one needs to review the development of Ben & Jerry's strong social consciousness and the takeover defence mechanisms that maintain management's control on company assets. One is required to estimate the economic cost of its social agenda, and evaluate the implications of takeover defence strategies. Ultimately, we have to take a position on whether Ben & Jerry's should continue to independently pursue its social agenda or accept one of the attractive takeover offers and accept a shift toward greater profit orientation. Company Overview

Ben & Jerry's Homemade, Inc., the Vermont-based manufacturer of ice cream, frozen yoghurt and sorbet, was founded in 1978, with a $12,000 investment ($4,000 of which was borrowed). It soon became popular for its innovative flavours, made from fresh Vermont milk and cream. The company currently distributes ice cream, low fat ice cream, frozen yoghurt, sorbet and novelty products nationwide as well as in selected foreign countries in supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, franchised Ben & Jerry's scoop shops, restaurants and other venues. Objective

Product: "To make, distribute and sell the finest quality all natural ice cream and related products in a wide variety of innovative flavours made from Vermont dairy products." Economic: "To operate the Company on a sound financial basis of profitable growth, increasing value for our shareholders, and creating career opportunities and financial rewards for our employees." Social: "To operate the Company in a way that actively recognizes the central role that business plays in the structure of society by initiating innovative ways to improve the quality of life of a broad community - local, national, and international."  

Reputation for quality
The high quality of the product is certainly a crucial factor for the success of the proposed strategy. The stress on the genuine origin of the ingredients and the company’s name "Homemade" creates and nourishes this impression in the eyes of the customer. Social Marketing

The founders beliefs in social responsibility has not only earned them the brand loyalty of the socially aware `baby-boomer’ generation, it also has saved the company a lot of money by providing free marketing through media coverage of social events4. Employee satisfaction

The company’s devotion to employee satisfaction is one of the causes for the company’s low employee turnover rate of 12%. The low turnover rate has impact on learning effects, training costs, and employee commitment. Low Gearing ratio

The low ratio of debts over total assets of 12% in 1999 gives B&J credibility, which is a good foundation for further investments and expansion

Case Introduction
Company is not only and industrial leader but also commands an important position in a variety of social causes Increased competitive pressures and declining financial performance has triggered a number of takeover offers Cofounders Ben Cohen & Jerry Greenfield know that the company’s social orientation requires corporate independence But Chief Executive Perry Odak feels that Ben & Jerry’s shareholders would be best served by selling out to the highest bidder Required to answer the following :

What is the economic cost of social contribution
What are the implications of takeover defence strategies •Whether B&J should continue to independently pursue its social agenda or accept one of the attractive takeover offers and shift toward greater profit orientation. Ben & Jerry’s Social Consciousness

Since 1985...
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