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The Wall Street Journal reports that Kraft Foods CEO Irene Rosenfeld has made it clear to its international managers that they should be actively looking for acquisition targets on their own, and not waiting for leadership from headquarters.

“Ms. Rosenfeld is most interested in Russia, Ukraine, Brazil and Mexico, according to a person familiar with the matter,” the Journal writes. “These local teams also have more flexibility to target acquisitions in new product categories within Kraft's core business and to pursue alternatives such as joint ventures and licensing deals. Previously, the teams largely took their marching orders from Kraft.”

Prompting Rosenfeld’s interest in making deals, analysts say, is the fact that Kraft soon will be cash-rich once it is spun-off by Altria Group later this month.
KC's View:
We like this story not because the Kraft specifics, but because it illustrates something very important that more companies ought to embrace – the spreading out of responsibility. In general, headquarters ought not be in the lead, but rather supporting the efforts of the people in the field, who usually have a much better idea about how the market is performing and where the strengths and weaknesses are.

We always thought that Feargal Quinn, founder of Superquinn in Ireland, had it right – he would fine anyone who referred his company’s main office as “headquarters.” It was, he maintained, a “support office” for the stores where the actual business is done.

You can actually logically extend this metaphor to explain what’s wrong with a lot of retail companies – that they think they’re actually generating revenue in the main office, as opposed to in the stores. In some cases, of course, they are…because they’re making as much or more money in slotting and promotional allowances as they are in actual sales.

Which is part of the reason that so many stores are losing relevance to the consumers.

Not sure how we go to this point from Irene Rosenfeld giving more responsibility to managers in the field…this is sort of a “stream of consciousness” commentary…but sadly, it is how our mind works.