Cadbury's Stitzer 'Scared' by Global Slowdown

01 August 2008

LONDON: Although chocolate runs alcohol a close second as a consolation in troubled times, Todd Stitzer, chief executive of UK-headquartered chocolatier Cadbury (now shorn of Schweppes), regards the current global economic climate as "scary".

He confessed Thursday to the Financial Times that he foresaw a boardroom shake-up and the sale of the firm's Australian unit in a bid to hit profit targets.

Stitzer is doubtless encouraged in his belief that change equates to progress by Cadbury's new non-executive chairman Roger Carr, appointed earlier this month.

Carr, a serial chairman of major PLCs (Cadbury is his third concurrent chair-chore), stated Wednesday that the company needed to take a more “determined” approach to business.

Quoth he, via a company website: "The world has changed quite remarkably even in the last six months. All of the management team have to look hard again at all aspects of the business."

It is for such penetrating insights that the chair of a £16.75 billion ($33.18bn; €21.33bn) listed company receives his annual shilling.

According to moles, the upheaval is likely to slim the ten-member board and recruit additional financial muscle. It will also trigger a review of the Australian business which contributes around £300m or 6% of group annual sales..

News of the imminent shake-up accompanied Cadbury's half-year results, with pre-tax profits up 28% to £143m. Revenues rose from £2.33bn to £2.65bn, helped by the strength of the euro and the Australian dollar against sterling.

Cadbury sees no signs of slowing sales in emerging markets, which now account for about one-third of total revenues.

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff