DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. -- Sara Lee Corp. said that it has chosen Hillshire Brands Co. as the new name for its North American business. Hillshire Brands will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol "HSH." Sara Lee also revealed its strategy for Hillshire Brands, which emphasizes new-product development, marketing investment and disciplined cost control.
Sara Lee will become two independent pure-play, publicly-traded companies on June 28, 2012. D.E Master Blenders 1753 will focus on international coffee and tea and Hillshire Brands will focus on meat-centric food products and foodservice operations.
Sean Connolly"As a pure-play company with strong momentum, we needed a name and identity that captures the potential of this new organization," said Sean Connolly, CEO of Sara Lee North American Retail & Foodservice, who will become CEO of Hillshire Brands. "Hillshire Brands represents our strong heritage in quality and great taste, as well as our ambitions for growing our portfolio of iconic brands in the future."
The Hillshire name was inspired by the Hillshire Farm brand, which Sara Lee acquired in 1971. Friedrich (Fritz) Bernegger founded Hillshire Farm in New London, Wis.
"A key goal was to retain the strong equity with consumers and customers that the Hillshire name brings us. Hillshire is a name that stands for quality, integrity and superior taste," he said.
"We envision making Hillshire Brands Co. the most innovative meat-centric food company in the U.S.," Connolly said. "We begin life in a dynamic sector as a major player with four iconic mainstream meat brands--Jimmy Dean, Ball Park, Hillshire Farm and State Fair--and our two artisanal brands--Aidells and Gallo. They position us well and provide tangible opportunity for growth in value-added products."
He added, "We intend to produce robust shareholder return by strengthening our core brands and expanding into adjacent food categories. With a relentless focus on consumer needs, we will leverage our marketing discipline and our market insights to develop inventive new products, while financing our innovation and increased marketing investment through enhanced margins and operational efficiencies."
After the spinoff, Hillshire Brands' Foodservice division will continue to be known as "Sara Lee Foodservice." This brand name is well-known and respected throughout the industry for its full portfolio of meat and bakery items, including both front-of-the-house and back-of-the house brands.
The company has also adopted a new visual identity to help position Hillshire Brands as a leader focused on providing innovative meat-centric brand and snack solutions, but at the same time, create a distinction between the new corporate name and the leading Hillshire Farm brand. The identity will be instilled throughout the organization through signage, stationery and a branded office space currently under construction in Chicago.
Downers Grove, Ill.-based Sara Lee and its leading portfolio of food and beverage brands, including Ball Park, Douwe Egberts, Hillshire Farm, Jimmy Dean, Pickwick Teas, Sara Lee and Senseo, generate nearly $8 billion in annual net sales from continuing operations. In January, 2011, Sara Lee announced that it would divide the company into two pure -play publicly traded companies, one focused on the international coffee and tea market and the other on North American meats.