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Spartan names Eidson CEO, moves forward with restructuring plan

BY Michael Johnsen

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. Spartan Stores on Wednesday announced the addition of Dennis Eidson to position of president and chief executive officer, pursuant to the succession plan previously announced Aug. 7. Eidson succeeds former chief executive officer Craig Sturken, who will remain as executive chairman.

“I am extremely pleased to announce this important step in our company’s succession plan,” Sturken said. “Dennis is the right individual to lead our organization forward. He has been instrumental in developing, guiding and executing the business strategies that produced record fiscal 2008 profits and 10 consecutive quarters of double-digit operating earnings growth. He was also the chief architect behind our very successful marketing, merchandising and category management strategies that strengthened our market position and sustained our business performance.

“Our long-standing objective has been to achieve profitable growth through a balanced combination of organic growth supplemented by prudent acquisitions,” Eidson said. “Our recently announced acquisition of VG’s Food and Pharmacy is our third significant retail acquisition of an independent operator in less than three years. We have successfully integrated the first two retail acquisitions, improving the sales and efficiency of these operations, and becoming increasingly adept at the integration process and optimizing value from the acquired operations. In addition, we remain the exit strategy of choice for many of our distribution customers’ retail operations. In the near-term, we will concentrate efforts on integrating our latest acquisition and driving organic growth through our capital investment program.”

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Food manufacturers battle over ownership rights of trademarked colors

BY Melissa Valliant

LONDON A recent legal battle against Australian chocolate company Darrell Lea has Cadbury showing its true colors as it fights to protect its trademarked color purple. The confectionary manufacturer is in the middle of a lawsuit accusing Darrell Lea of using purple packaging to purposefully deceive consumers into thinking the products were made by British sweets manufacturer Cadbury.

In April, the Federal Court of Australia ruled in favor of Darrell Lea, stating that the chocolate company had not breached the Trade Practices Act and had not designed its packaging to appear Cadbury-produced. Cadbury plans on continuing the fight, saying it will appeal the judge’s decision.

The heated battle truly exemplifies how important and valuable a brand has become in today’s market. Millward Brown Optimator reported that Coca-Cola’s brand is worth a whopping $58.2 billion. Ever since laws were passed in the 1990s allowing companies to trademark colors, corporations have jumped on the opportunity to personalize their brands with color. UPS registered a particular shade of brown, Tiffany’s trademarked a blue tone and McDonalds owns a certain shade of red and yellow.

Registering a color trademark prevents other companies from using a color shade within a particular marketing context. Cadbury is essentially fighting for its trademark on the color purple and defending its accusation of Darrell Lea’s use of purple to deceive consumers. “At the moment, Cadbury currently has uncertainty as to whether it can enforce its color purple in Australia,” said Gary Assim, head of intellectual property at UK law firm Shoosmiths.

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Cadbury cuts middle layer of management; puts CEO in driver’s seat

BY Jenna Duncan

LONDON Cadbury today reported that it is revamping its management structure removing a layer of management and handing over the reins to chief executive officer Todd Stitzer to steer the company’s operational divisions.

“Our four region operational structure will be eliminated, leaving seven business units (listed in Appendix A) which will report directly to [Stitzer],” Cadbury said in a press statement. “At the same time, we are strengthening our global chocolate, gum and candy category structure, further increasing our focus on category development.”

The change will extract the company’s current regional management structure, removing layers and spreading out organizational tasks over other layers. The company hopes that the change will provide “faster decision making, improve in-market execution and ensure a stronger alignment of category strategies and commercial programs,” it has stated.

The removal of the management layer will affect 250 positions, many of them senior managers. Cadbury said that the changes were following a plan started in 2007 to restructure operations.

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