As of June 28 The Sara Lee Corporation will be no-more. In light of falling fortunes, It has decided to split itself in two, and change its name. The move to reflects a long, steady move away from traditional baked goods, such as rolls and bagels. In fact, most of its fresh-bakery products with the Sara Lee name are now made by other companies.
So, out-with-the-old, and in-with-the-new. Its European coffee-and-tea business will be called D.E Master Blenders 1753 (quite a mouthful). And, to revamp and re-emphasize its line of lunch meats and packaged-meat products, the company is renaming its food business Hillshire Brands Company.
Sara Lee bought the Hillshire Farms brand in 1971, and decided to bring the well-known brand to the head of the table.
"The trademark and the brand equity is incredibly strong," Sean Connolly, who will be chief executive of the stand-alone meat company, told investors. "You don't get to be a billion-dollar franchise by accident."
According to the Wall Street Journal, the new executive team is pledging to roll out new products and marketing campaigns for household names such as Ball Park hot dogs and Jimmy Dean sausage. New products include Ball Park slider sandwiches and a Mexican-flavored corn dog.
Skeptics say reversing fortunes will be difficult. "There is furious rearrangement of deck chairs at Sara Lee," Tim Ramey, a D.A. Davidson analyst and former executive at Sara Lee, said in a research note last month. "The company is shrinking and doesn't have a great strategy for reversing that trend."