Blog: Katy AskewAbsence speaks louder than words

Katy Askew | 16 March 2010

Having already secured the takeover of UK confectioner Cadbury, perhaps Kraft boss Irene Rosenfeld did not feel the need to attend the Select Committee hearing into the deal today (16 March).

It is certainly true that there is nothing the Business, Innovations and Skills (BIS) committee can do to reverse either the US conglomerate's takeover of Cadbury or its much derided decision to close a UK manufacturing facility having previously made pledges to keep the Somerdale site open.

Besides, she probably had more pressing matters to attend to. As Kraft EVP Marc Firestone told the cross-party group of MPs, a board meeting had been scheduled.

Nevertheless, given the unpopular nature of the takeover and the mountains of bad press Kraft has received in the UK following its completion, perhaps it would not have done any harm to put in an appearance.

Indeed, Rosenfeld could have viewed this as an ideal opportunity to reassure UK policy makers, Cadbury's employees and the British public of Kraft's intentions.

A strong statement on the company's plans for Cadbury's future may have gone some way to counteract fears that the Dairy Milk maker will lose its identity now that it has been swallowed up by the US giant, becoming just another of Kraft's seemingly neglected brands.

The decision not to attend smacks of a certain arrogance and has, in fact, sent out the opposite message – that now the merger is complete, Cadbury, its workers and opinion in the UK simply isn't worth the trans-Atlantic flight.

As Select Committee MP Brian Binley observed, her absence has been viewed as a “sizeable discourtesy”.


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