Sara Lee Prepares For $8bn Brands Sale

14 February 2005

US consumer goods giant Sara Lee, maker of such diverse brands as Playtex bras and Jammie Dodgers cookies, is to dispose of nearly half its product range.

The $8.2 billion (€6.3bn, £4.4bn) auction will be overseen by newly appointed ceo Brenda Barnes, 51, a former senior PepsiCo executive who joined Sara Lee as chief operating officer last year.

The sprawling Chicago-based company intends to sell its clothing brands, European packaged meats, direct-selling and US retail coffee divisions, which together generated forty percent of Sara Lee's $19.6bn sales last year.

Spinning off the apparel division, valued at around $4bn, is the group's biggest divestment; it is also Sara Lee's biggest headache with the loss of more than four thousand jobs last year amid competition from cheap Chinese and Indian clothing.

Says outgoing ceo Steve McMillan: "We are taking bold steps that we feel necessary to transform Sara Lee into a company that will achieve greater and more consistent long-term growth."

Data sourced from The Times Online (UK) and; additional content by WARC staff