Quote, unquote: just-food's week in words

By Katie Smith | 23 December 2011

This week, UK retailers Thorntons and Ocado issued profit warnings, while US food giant General Mills revealed a fall in quarterly profits. Meanwhile, in Europe, Italian retailer Conad acquired German retailer Rewe's 43 Billa stores in the country.

"Following continued weakness in consumer sentiment and high levels of promotional activity in the marketplace, the board now considers profits for its full year will fall short of current expectations" - Thorntons reveals its problems run far deeper than previously thought.

"General Mills second-quarter results show good net sales growth worldwide. Our Yoplait acquisition fueled a more than 50% increase in total international sales. Significantly higher input costs pressured our margins, as expected" - General Mills chairman and CEO Ken Powell outlined the US food giant's second-quarter performance, which included a fall in profits.

"We are encouraged by our progress in fighting inflation in the consumer foods segment; volumes for that segment have performed largely as expected given ongoing price increases" - ConAgra Foods CEO Gary Rodkin says the US food group is working to battle increased commodity costs within its consumer division, which this week reported falling quarterly profits.

"The acquisition of Billa is an important stage of our development project and will strengthen the leadership of Conad in supermarkets and give us a larger presence in the hypermarket sector" - Francesco Pugliese, the director general of Italian retailer Conad said acquiring Rewe's 43 Billa stores in the country is an important step for the company. 

"A little more than disappointing" - Analyst Clive Black of Shore Capital sums up UK online retailer Ocado's profit warning.

"Like wolves in sheep's clothing, junk food manufacturers are preying on children and targeting them with fun and games they know will hold their attention" - The British Heart Foundation policy manager Mubeen Bhutta argues UK rules on online marketing are "weak" and open to interpretation.

"The macroeconomic environment has remained highly uncertain and conditions in Europe haven't painted a bright picture either. As a result, firms could be operating with a degree of conservatism" - Erin Lash, an analyst at US investment research firm Morningstar, said concern over the economy led boardrooms to be more reluctant to sign off plans to acquire businesses in 2011.

"We can't go into markets and just deliver an organic or natural version of what is already there. We need to have more insight into the category and develop real innovation that is going to be relevant" - Kallo Foods chief executive Patrick Cairns talking about his moves to refocus the UK company and his strategy to grow the business.

"As shoppers are watching every pound they spend, it is also crucial to get the basics right, such as tailoring the customer experience at a local level - a 'one size fits all' approach will not work" - IGD chief executive Joanne Denney-Finch believes shoppers are becoming much more savvy in the run up until Christmas.

"National brands need to put in place solid plans on where and how to defend their share of shopper" - SymphonyIRI vice president of consulting Rod Street argues manufacturers need to react to retailers upping their game on own label.

Sectors: Advertising & labelling, Canned food, Condiments, dressings & sauces, Confectionery, Financials, Fresh produce, Frozen, Mergers & acquisitions, Multichannel, Private label, Retail, Sustainability & the environment

Companies: Thorntons, General Mills, Ocado, Rewe, Yoplait, ConAgra Foods, IGD

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Quote, unquote: just-food's week in words

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