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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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Nestea announces new flavors, new bottle

BY Jenna Duncan

ATLANTA Nestea is getting a makeover, producer Coca-Cola said Friday. The beverage maker said that it plans to add new flavors and revamp the Nestea brand’s packaging to beat competition in the U.S. tea market.

New Nestea bottles will land in stores this month with bold labels and a slimmer design. Coke said the design change was geared to make the tea stand out from soft drinks. New Nestea flavors, Green Tea Citrus and Diet Green Tea Citrus, are being rolled out with 50 percent more antioxidants than the Nestea green tea currently on the market.

Senior vice president and general manager of coffee and tea for Coca-Cola North, Penny McIntyre, said, “You could sum it up to say we changed pretty well everything that we could to make sure we had the strongest proposition for consumers.”

The take-home sales totals for tea rose 20.5 percent in the U.S. in 2007, reported Beverage Digest newsletter recently. According to the report, Nestea ranked fourth, following competitors Arizona Tea, Lipton and Snapple. Nestea held 8.5 percent of the market.

The new Nestea marketing campaign will get under way during the next few months, Coke said. To promote the new flavors and packaging, Coke will distribute more than 1 million free samples of Nestea.

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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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