Sara Lee Names CEO, Plans to Shed Brands

CHICAGO Sara Lee today disclosed a broad restructuring of its operations, including the appointment of a new CEO and the divestiture of its apparel and coffee businesses.

Brenda Barnes, who joined the company last June as president and chief operating officer, will take over as CEO, effective immediately. The former CEO, C. Steven McMillan, will continue as chairman until October 2005.

During that time, McMillan will focus on divestitures including the sale of its apparel brands in the United States, Asia and Europe. Brands in the portfolio include Champion, Playtex and Just My Size.

The company will also sell its U.S. retail coffee business with brands such as Chock Full o’ Nuts, Hills Bros., MJB and Chase and Sanborn. The Senseo pod coffeemaker, however, will not be a part of the sale, according to the company.

In addition, the company will reorganize itself along three lines of business. The North American Retail business will include the bakery, packaged meats and Senseo coffee business in the U.S. and Canada. The unit will be led by C.J. Fraleigh, who joined the company as chief customer and marketing officer in January from General Motors.

The North American Foodservice business will include the bakery, coffee and meats foodservice business. James Nolan, who is currently executive vice president for PepsiAmericas, will join Sara Lee on Feb. 21 to lead the division.

Sara Lee International will oversee the global households products business, as well as European packaged meats (which has also been tagged for sale). Adrian Nuhn, who is currently responsible for global beverage and household product lines, will lead the international accounts.

Sara Lee spent just over $170 million on advertising last year, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus. The Chicago-based company’s agencies include Omnicom’s TBWA\Chiat\Day in Playa del Rey, Calif. (Ball Park and Jimmy Dean), BBDO in Chicago (Chock Full O’ Nuts and Senseo) and Element 79 in Chicago (Hillshire Farms); Publicis Groupe’s Publicis in Dallas (bakery goods and Champion apparel); and Grey Global Group’s Grey New York (Kiwi shoe polish).