Campbell may sell Godiva

Aug. 9, 2007

Campbell Soup Co. (www.campbellsoupcompany.com), Camden, N.J., on Aug. 9 announced that it will explore “strategic alternatives, including possible divestiture,” for its Godiva Chocolatier business. The decision follows a review of Campbell's portfolio as part of the company's ongoing strategic planning process.

Godiva Chocolatier has annual sales of approximately $500 million. Its products are sold through company-owned and franchised retail stores, specialty retailers and finer department stores and on the Internet.

"Godiva is one of the world's most recognized luxury brands and the business has been a strong performer for Campbell,” said Douglas Conant, Campbell's president/CEO. “Although the premium chocolate category is experiencing strong growth and Godiva is well-positioned for the future, the premium chocolate business does not fit with Campbell's strategic focus on simple meals, including soup-baked snacks, and vegetable-based beverages.”

Actually, Godiva hasn’t performed all that well of late for Campbell. The Wall Street Journal reported operating earnings for the unit that includes Godiva and the company Away From Home dropped 2 percent for the nine-month period ending April 29. Campbell’s other three operating units were up: baking and snacks by 53 percent, U.S. soups, sauces and beverages by 11 percent and international soups and sauces by 8 percent.

Since Campbell bought the business some 40 years ago, it has successfully managed to create a refined, European image for the chocolate maker, the Journal reported. The company was founded more than 80 years ago in a small Belgian chocolate shop. The Journal estimated the unit could sell for “$750 million to $1 billion or more.”

Campbell officials also indicated the unit does not fit the company’s current business focus on healthier foods. Campbell has retained Centerview Partners LLC as its financial advisor in this matter.

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