DOWNERS GROVE, ILL. — New product development, marketing investment and cost control will be areas of focus for Sara Lee Corp.’s North American business, which will be known as Hillshire Brands Co. after the June 28 spin-off.
“We envision making Hillshire Brands Co. the most innovative meat-centric food company in the U.S.,” said Sean Connolly, chief executive officer of Sara Lee Corp.’s North American Retail and Foodservice business and future Hillshire Brands’ c.e.o. “We begin life in a dynamic sector as a major player with four iconic mainstream meat brands — Jimmy Dean, Ball Park, Hillshire Farm and State Fair — and our two artisanal brands — Aidells and Gallo. They position us well and provide tangible opportunity for growth in value-added products.
“We intend to produce robust shareholder return by strengthening our core brands and expanding into adjacent food categories. With a relentless focus on consumer needs, we will leverage our marketing discipline and our market insights to develop inventive new products while financing our innovation and increased marketing investment through enhanced margins and operational efficiencies.”
Specifically, the company hopes to achieve annual revenue growth of 4% to 5% and an operating margin of 10% by fiscal year 2015 with a near-term dividend payout ratio of 30% to 35%. The company also hopes to achieve higher revenues through innovation and increased brand support as well as improved gross margins through new, higher-margin products, brand strength differentiation and productivity.
Other goals include increased marketing, advertising and promotion to 5% of revenue by fiscal year 2015 and further cost and productivity programs.