Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Sara Lee

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The Sara Lee Corporation is a global consumer-goods company based in Downers Grove, Illinois, USA. It has operations in more than 40 countries and sells its products in over 180 nations worldwide. Its international operations are headquartered in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Sara Lee's UK brands include: Douwe Egberts, Brylcreem, Kiwi Shoe Polish and Radox.

1939 Nathan Cummings buys C.D. Kenny Company, a small wholesale distributor of sugar, coffee, and tea based in Baltimore.

1942 Sprague, Warner and Company, distributor of canned and packaged food, is acquired; company relocates to Chicago and is renamed Sprague Warner-Kenny Corporation.

1945 Company changes name to Consolidated Grocers Corporation.

1946 Company goes public with a listing on the New York Stock Exchange.

1954 Company changes name to Consolidated Foods Corporation (CFC).

1956 The Kitchens of Sara Lee, maker of frozen baked goods, is acquired; CFC also acquires 34 Piggly Wiggly supermarkets.

1966 Under order from the Federal Trade Commission, CFC agrees to divest its supermarket division; the company acquires its first meat company, E. Kahn's Sons Company, and its first nonfood company, Oxford Chemical Corporation.

1968 CFC enters the apparel industry with the purchase of Gant shirts.

1971 Hillshire Farm was acquired.

1974 John H. Bryan became company president, beginning a long reign as head of the firm.

1978 CFC acquired Douwe Egberts, a Dutch coffee, tea, and tobacco producer.

1979 The hostile takeover of undergarment maker Hanes Corporation iwas completed.

1984 Jimmy Dean Meats was acquired.

1984 Acquired Nicholas Kiwi. It was the dominant shoe polish in some countries, including the United Kingdom and the United States, where it had about two-thirds of the market[1].

1985 CFC changed its name to Sara Lee Corporation; acquired Coach leatherware.

1987 Dutch household goods conglomerate Akzo was acquired.

1991 Undergarment maker Playtex was acquired.

1991 Sara Lee Corporation acquired part of the shoe care business of Reckitt and Colman, including the Cherry Blossom and Meltonian brands. The purchase was referred to the Competition Commission which recommended disposal of Cherry Blossom[2], leaving Kiwi and Tuxan polish, as well as Meltonian.

1991 The world-wide pharmaceuticals business (including the UK business operated by Nicholas Laboratories Ltd) was sold to the Hoffmann-La Roche group. The household and toiletries businesses acquired as part of the purchase of Nicholas Kiwi were retained by Sara Lee.

1998 Sara Lee sold its tobacco unit to Imperial Tobacco Group.

1999 Company acquired coffee brands Chock full o'Nuts, Hills Bros., MJB, and Chase and Sanborn.

2000 Company acquired Courtaulds Textiles plc, leading maker of intimate apparel and underwear in the United Kingdom; partial interest in Coach was sold through an IPO; foodservice distributor PYA/Monarch was sold for $1.56 billion and merged with U.S. Foodservice.

2001 Remaining stake in Coach was spun off to Sara Lee shareholders; Sara Lee purchased the second largest bakery in the United States, The Earthgrains Company.

2005 Sara Lee's retail Coffee and Tea division were sold off to Massimo Zanetti Beverage Company.

See Also

  • [3] Sara Lee official website

Sources of Information

  1. Competition Commission [1]
  2. Competition Commission [2]