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Campbell Soup announced last week that it plans to sell “its international operations and refrigerated-foods business, abandoning efforts to expand into fresh food … Campbell is looking for buyers for its Bolthouse Farms, Garden Fresh, Arnott’s and Kelsen brands, which together generate $2.1 billion in annual revenue,” according to a story in the Wall Street Journal.

The story says that “what remains of Campbell will be U.S.-focused, with revenue split nearly evenly between its lackluster soups, meals and drinks segment, and its more promising snack business, putting pressure on management to improve those operations.” The company also is “leaving the door open to a full sale,” the Journal writes.

The story makes the point that this is a direct repudiation of the fresh foods strategy espoused by former CEO Denise Morrison, who resigned earlier this year after her efforts largely underperformed.

Interim Chief Executive Keith McLoughlin told analysts last week that “we had too many initiatives that made the company unnecessarily complex. We lost focus within our products and brands.”

In addition, Campbell has been under pressure from activist investors to sell the company.
KC's View:
It seems to me that the Denise Morrison strategy was correct, at least in terms of being in synch with where customers are going, but it may just be that there wasn’t enough time to make it work, or perhaps the implementation was flawed.

I have to imagine that this is just a precursor to the whole company being sold …. that this is about getting out of a tough spot and maximizing shareholder returns, not about building a vital, forward-looking and innovative enterprise.