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Tootsie Roll maintains independence during times of consolidation

BY Jenna Duncan

CHICAGO The news of the pending sale of Wrigley to Mars this week has left speculators scanning the market for other independent confectioners who have withstood looming threats of consolidation. But one American candy industry stalwart, Tootsie Roll, seems to have no plans to sell any time soon.

Family-owned and led by 88-year-old chief executive officer Melvin Gordon and his wife, 76-year-old president Ellen Gordon, have been mum with their shareholders on the topic of selling.

Many shareholders, and even he company’s stock analyst, have indicated that they thought a sale such as the transaction that put Wrigley in the hands of Mars would be the best thing for Tootsie Roll. Some believe that leadership by an industry giant might help grow distribution and sales and keep the candy company afloat in a rough economy—especially in overseas markets where growth is projected.

Tootsie Roll reported that its profit fell by 22 percent last year and its first quarter of 2008 was even worse. The company said that it is suffering from the soaring costs of ingredients.

But despite its losses, the company has been moot on the topic of potential buyers and its current leadership appears to be firmly in place.

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San Francisco drug stores face possible ban on tobacco sales

BY Jenna Duncan

SAN FRANCISCO A proposed ordinance to ban the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco items from San Francisco drug stores could be in place by the end of this week.

The law, proposed by Mayor Gavin Newsom last Tuesday, would put a ban on tobacco sales at any stores with pharmacies, but would not include big box chain stores, like Costco, or grocery stores. A spokesperson for the mayor said that this ordinance is part of a series of actions supported by Mayor Newsom to promote independent healthy living.

“The spirit of this is that pharmacies are places people go to get better,” spokeswoman Giselle Barry said. “They shouldn’t be selling products that cause cancer.”

The new law would go into effect on Oct. 1. The San Francisco Department of Public Health [the regulator of tobacco sales in San Francisco] would be responsible for enforcement of the law and those in violation would have to pay fines of $100 to $1,000.

The proposed ordinance must have the approval of the Board of Supervisors. The topic is on the agenda for the Board’s City and County of San Francisco City Operations and Neighborhood Services Committee special meeting on Thursday.

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General Mills names chief executive officer as chairman

BY Jenna Duncan

MINNEAPOLIS General Mills said yesterday that it will appoint Kendall J. Powell to cover the job of chairman. Powell is already chief executive officer of the company.

Powell was voted by the board to take over duties as chairman on May 23, when Stephen Sanger, a 34-year veteran of the company, retires.

Sanger served as chairman and chief executive since he was elected to the seat, about 13 years ago. Powell, 54, joined the company in 1979 and was promoted to chief executive in September 2007.

Wall Street today reported that General Mills shares rose 16 cents to $61.83 during afternoon trading.

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