Businessman Nathan Cummings bought the C.D. Kenny Co., a Baltimore coffee, tea, and sugar wholesaler, in 1939. Cummings soon purchased several grocery firms and later changed the company’s name to Consolidated Grocers—1945. The operation went public in 1946 and was renamed Consolidated Foods Corporation in 1954. Two years later CFC bought the Kitchens of Sara Lee, a Chicago bakery founded by Charles Lubin 1951. Introduced in 1949 and named after Lubin’s daughter, Sara Lee cheesecake had become his most popular product.
Soon after, CFC began building its international markets with its first European acquisition in 1962. Subsequent to that purchase, it expanded its global presence with the purchases of Douwe Egberts (coffee, tea, and tobacco; the Netherlands; 1978), Nicholas Kiwi (shoe care and pharmaceuticals, Australia, 1984), and Dim (hosiery and underwear, France, 1989). Using one of its most respected brand names to enhance the public’s awareness of the company, CFC changed its name to Sara Lee in 1985.1
While cheesecake might have brought the company fame, it’s the underwear and hot dogs that bring in more than half of Sara Lee’s sales. The company operates five separate business units in the U.S. and abroad, these include: Sara Lee Foods--a major U.S. packaged-meat processor with brands such as Ball Park and Jimmy Dean, Sara Lee Bakery Group--the number two bakery company in the U.S. (behind Interstate Bakeries) and responsible for fresh bread as well as frozen cheesecakes, The Branded Apparel group—which tops in U.S. intimate apparel and hosiery (Hanes L’eggs, Playtex, and Wonderbra), its Coffee & Tea Worldwide group—that creates beverage sales worldwide, while the Household & Body Care group sells Endust furniture cleaner, Kiwi shoe polish, and body care products in non-U.S. markets.
Chicago-based Sara Lee Corporation is a global manufacturer and marketer of high-quality, brand-name products for consumers throughout the world. They have three lines of businesses: Food and Beverage, Branded Apparel, and Household Products. Sara Lee has operations in 58 countries, with products in nearly 200 nations and has 150,400 employees worldwide. Some may wonder how one company, with thousands of employees in numerous locations, makes sure everyone is basing his or her decisions on the corporation’s values. These are questions Sara Lee executives and employees debated in the process of creating a program called Global Business Practices.
Introduced in 1997, the program seeks to communicate and reinforce the company’s basic values. The Global Business Practices program emphasizes not only compliance with laws, but also values. The program gives employees a framework within which to make decisions. Sara Lee’s Global Business Practices is summarized in a document called Global Business Standards written in plain language. This document is distributed to every employee, and has been translated into more than 11 languages.
Sara Lee has a global...