Business Briefs – August 15, 2007

Chocolate Anyone?
Campbell Soup, the largest soup company in the U.S., recently reviewed their extensive portfolio and decided to explore strategic alternatives, which include the possible sale of their Godiva Chocolate division. They feel the premium chocolate business simply doesn’t fit their strategic focus on simple meals such as soup, baked snacks, and vegetable-based beverages.

Ronald sells Boston Market
McDonald’s has reached a deal to sell its Boston Market chicken chain to private-equity firm Sun Capital Partners for an undisclosed sum. It’s amazing how many Boston Market fans had no idea the family-style restaurant was owned by McDonalds.

Preparation for Olympic Games Underway
Like so many other countries obtaining the privilege of hosting the Olympic games, China is pulling out all the stops to make certain they convince the world that they can produce the grandest games in history. With one year remaining before the opening ceremonies, Chinese organizers are evicting more than a million tenants to make room for the 37 venues, which make up the famed games. They’re also shutting down factories to reduce pollution, plotting to control the weather, staging rallies to teach English and ordering Beijing’s sometimes rude citizens to mind their manners. They’ve even scheduled the opening ceremony to take advantage of a Chinese lucky number – 8. The games will begin at 8:08, August 8, 2008.

They’re expecting 10,000 athletes and 550,000 visitors. To put on a good face for the world-wide exposure, China will dole out a record $40 billion on stadiums and airport and subway improvements. China is determined to overcome its growing negative image resulting from recent scandals involving contaminated food and consumer goods.

Possible Tax Increase Haunts Tobacco Land
As Congress weighs the biggest federal cigarette tax hike in history, $1 per pack, analysis has noted sharp declines in consumption. The nation may be about to experience one of the biggest one-time declines in smoking according to leading economists and health experts. Don’t expect the ever-strong tobacco industry to sit back and hope this doesn’t happen. You can bet the midnight oil is being burned in nightly strategy meetings all over Tobacco Land. The potential revenue losses would be an unacceptable blow to an enormous profit picture. You’re going to be hearing more about this issue in the coming days.

Toy Industry Added to Victim List
The Fisher-Price division of Mattel toys has become the latest victim of the “China Syndrome” to the obvious dismay of U.S. parents from coast to coast. Mattel, like many other toy manufacturers, had contracted with companies in China to make the toys. These toys produced sales of $22 billion last year, not counting another $12 billion in computer games. The toys were recalled because of concerns about paint containing lead, which has been outlawed for use on U.S. toys since 1978. China currently makes 70% to 80% of the toys sold in the USA.

The “China Syndrome” appeared first in pet food, then seafood, then tires, then toothpaste, and now it’s included the biggest toy company in the world as well as many other smaller ones. What’s next? Does anyone see a pattern here? Young toy owners are smart enough to respond with a resounding “duh”? What will it take to reveal this pattern to Washington?

Coke Gets Healthier
Cola-Cola announced it has agreed to purchase privately held Energy Brands, Inc., known as Glacéau, the maker of vitaminwater and other enhanced water beverages. The $4.1 billion acquisition will be in cash and is expected to close this summer, subject to customary approvals. Add current sales of their Dasani brand to the potential of Glaceau Vitaminwater, and one would think that the minds at Coke are taking water very seriously.

About Harry K. Jones

Harry K. Jones is a motivational speaker and consultant for AchieveMax®, Inc., a company of professional speakers who provide custom-designed seminars, keynote presentations, and consulting services. Harry's top requested topics include change management, customer service, creativity, employee retention, goal setting, leadership, stress management, teamwork, and time management. For more information on Harry's presentations, please call 800-886-2629 or fill out our contact form.

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