Chicago-based Sara Lee Corp.'s ambitious transformation plan took divergent directions as the company announced it will close three bakeries and expand into the top 10 bread markets. This plan also combines the company's bakery and meat divisions into one group, Sara Lee Food & Beverage.
During a conference call announcing details of the company's transformation plan, CJ Fraleigh, Sara Lee Food & Beverage's chief executive officer, said the company's goal is to sell products in the top 10 bread markets within the next three years. The company distributes breads in Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco/Oakland area. The company does not distribute products in New York City, Baltimore/ Washington D.C., Boston, Philadelphia, New England, Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, or the Hartford, Conn./Springfield, Mass. areas. A lack of bakeries in the Northeast prohibits immediate expansion into some of these areas, Fraleigh said.
Despite Sara Lee's quest to expand into seven major new markets in the next three years, the company's transformation plan also calls for mass reductions in selling and manufacturing expenses. On the manufacturing side, the company has closed four bakeries in the last few years, and recently announced plans to close additional bakeries in Birmingham, Ala.; Milwaukee; and Redding, Calif.
On the selling side, the company reduced 525 routes, 103 loaders, 55 depots and streamlined management by 58 employees and reduced support labor by 75 employees. These selling and manufacturing reductions equal more than $30 million in savings, the company said.