Sara Lee Case Analysis

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Sara Lee Corporation in 2011:
Has Its Retrenchment Strategy Been Successful?
Amanda Hibbs
Anderson University

Sara Lee Corporation has a vision “to be the first choice of consumers and customers around the world by bringing together innovative ideas, continuous improvement and people who can make things happen.” The company’s vision can be summed up simply with their mission: “To simply delight you…everyday.” The company has been trying to achieve these goals since 1939 when the company began. Sara Lee employs a broad differentiation strategy, and has been diversifying since inception, mainly by acquisition. In 2005, the company, in an effort to raise profitability, began to divest eight of its business. The company’s goal was to increase sales to at least $14 billion, and increase operating profit to 12%. The idea was to focus efforts on the good, beverage and household product industry, which were seen as more profitable, and profits would increase.

In 2008, Sara Lee launched an initiative called Project Accelerate. This program was designed to cut costs and increase productivity by focusing on overhead costs, streamlining the supply chain and outsourcing. It is expected to save of sum of $350 to $400 million by the end of 2012. By 2010, Project Accelerate had saved the company $180 million. The management team also decided to buyback $2.5 to $3 billion of common shares over a three year period. Despite their efforts, by the end of 2010, Sara Lee has revenues of just $10.8 billion and the operating profit margin was well below the target 12% at 8.5%. In an attempt to boost the numbers further, the company divested the International Household and Body Care business.

Although Sara Lee cut down business operations between 2008 and 2010, the company’s strategy is the same. The company employs a broad differentiation strategy. In all research conducted, Sara Lee does not say that the goal is to be the lowest price product or only sell to a...
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