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

By Michelle Russell | 12 March 2012

Iceland Foods founder and CEO Malcolm Walker told of his "delight" at purchasing the UK frozen food retailer today (9 March) after months of talks to secure the firm. Elsewhere, Dairy Crest announced a review of its St Huberts unit, which it said would reduce its debt and help it invest in its core business. Analysts also poured over Tesco's plans to revitalise its UK business and full-year results from Carrefour, while Morrisons, which also announced its annual financial figures, outlined its expansion plans and fresh food initiatives.

"I am utterly delighted that we have been able to conclude a deal that ensures a secure, independent future for this great British company" - Iceland Foods founder and CEO Malcolm Walker on the purchase of the UK frozen food retailer.

"Carrefour will likely take many years to turn around, require significant price investment and therefore we envisage a further period of earnings pressure and shareholder value destruction" - Matthew Truman, European food retail analyst, JP Morgan Cazenove on Carrefour's FY results.

"We are trading for today whilst building for tomorrow" - Morrisons CEO Dalton Philips as the UK retailer underlined its plans to expand its convenience business and emphasise its fresh food credentials.

"Dairy Crest has been unable to make additional synergistic acquisitions in Continental Europe as it envisaged at the time of its acquisition of St Hubert and it believes that greater value may be generated for shareholders through the consideration of all the available options for St Hubert" - Dairy Crest on the launch of a review on the future of St Hubert, its branded spreads business in France.

"There is a battle in the fresh arena that Tesco is joining, and if it gets its act together in availability, ranging and service, this may cause ripples elsewhere in the trade" - Shore Capital analyst Clive Black says Tesco's plans to revitalise sales could have an impact on competitors.

"What you'll see this year is Waitrose become more price competitive" - Waitrose MD Mark Price tells just-food the UK retailer will continue to fight hard on price.

"Already under immense pressure, shoppers here can only sustain so much and this pressure translates itself into a strong downward force on inflation. Suppliers are fearful of raising prices or breaking the cycle of promotions" - Rod Street of SymphonyIRI highlights the circular influence of rising food prices and purchasing power.

"It is always sad to propose the closure of factories. However, fierce competition require us to continue producing products with high quality at a low cost" - Cloetta president and CEO Bengt Baron gives reasons for the closure of five facilities.

"I don't think necessarily we'll have to go to the table. I think the table will come to us. Everybody will look at it. We will too... [but] there are many people out there that might have a greater interest in it than we do" - Smithfield Foods CFO Bo Manly reveals banks are touting Sara Lee's meat business for sale.

"Our people are integral to our business and decisions like this are not taken lightly. We have remained transparent throughout this process and kept them aware of possible changes for the past year, in line with our principles" - Michael Ryan, general manager of Mars' chocolate unit in Australia, on its move to cut jobs in the country.

Sectors: Advertising & labelling, Baby food, Bakery, Canned food, Cereal, Chilled foods, Commodities & ingredients, Condiments, dressings & sauces, Confectionery, Dairy, Dried foods, Emerging markets, Financials, Food safety, Fresh produce, Frozen, Health & wellness, Ice cream, Meat & poultry, Mergers & acquisitions, Natural & organic, NPD & innovation, Private label, Retail, Seafood, Snacks, Sustainability & the environment, World foods

Companies: Carrefour, Morrisons, Dairy Crest, Tesco, Iceland Foods, Waitrose, Cloetta, Smithfield Foods, Sara Lee

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

This week saw UK retailer Morrisons release its first-half earnings results, through which, CEO Dalton Philips defended its "fresh format" stores and policy on vouchers, two strategies brought into question in recent weeks. Elsewhere, the Barclays Capital Back to School Conference saw companies including General Mills and Heinz talk about their strategies for growth going forward.

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Ahead of its split in two next month, Kraft Foods this week outlined its plans for snacks arm Mondelez International. Hershey will be a rival of the new company and it made the headlines with its deal to take full control of its venture in India. In the retail sector, Morrisons posted better first-half results than some had expected and Ahold announced plans to review its stake in Nordic retailer ICA.

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