The Supply Side: Wal-Mart supplier news briefs

• Snyder’s -Lance posts bigger profits
Growth in its core branded items provided a boost for Snyder’s-Lance Inc. in the fiscal year ended Dec. 29, 2012. Net income was $59.5 million, equal to 86 cents per share. This compared with $38.7 million, or 57 cents per share, in the previous fiscal year. Excluding special items, net income was $66.1 million, which compared with $47.8 million in the previous fiscal year.

Fiscal-year net revenues dipped 1% to $1,619 million from $1,635 million. When adjusted for the impact of the independent business owner route system conversion, net revenues increased 2%.

Snyder’s-Lance began to implement its strategic plan in the 2012 fiscal year, said David Singer, CEO of Charlotte, N.C.-based Snyder’s-Lance.

“In line with this plan, we delivered strong growth in our core branded items of Snyder’s of Hanover, Lance and Cape Cod, and we acquired Snack Factory and the fast-growing Pretzel Crisps brand,” Singer said. “In 2012, we also invested in capacity and innovation capabilities while we improved margins in our non-branded items by discontinuing sales to certain customers who did not accept price increases.”

For fiscal year 2013, Snyder’s-Lance estimates its net revenue will rise 10% to 12% and that its earnings per diluted share will rise between 22% and 32%, excluding special items.

Also in fiscal year 2013, Singer plans to retire as CEO at an annual shareholders meeting on May 3. Carl Lee Jr., president and chief operating officer, will assume the CEO position at that time.

Snyder’s Lance is a supplier at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and has a sales office in Rogers.

• National Beef sheds jobs after loss of Wal-Mart contract
National Beef Packing Co. announced plans to lay off 433 employees by April 13. The company said 150 layoffs will be at the Hummel’s Wharf, Pa., location and 283 at the Moultrie, Ga., facility.

“National Beef was notified in October by one of its key customers (Wal-Mart Stores Inc.) that it would transition away from using National Beef as a supplier of case-ready beef,” the company said in a statement. “Today, there are no plans to close the Hummel’s Wharf or Moultrie facilities; however, they will begin to operate at reduced levels.

“National Beef is working to bring additional business to each facility and to preserve the jobs, skills and experience of the National Beef team at each location,” the company said.

National Beef lost its contract with Wal-Mart in October. The company produced case-ready beef, hamburger and pork for Wal-Mart, the largest U.S. retailer. Company officials said they anticipated the change and had a contingency plan aimed at diversifying the company’s customer base.

National Beef has operations in Liberal, Dodge City and Kansas City, Kan.; Brawley, Calif.; Hummel's Wharf, Pa.; Moultrie and St. Joseph, Mo. The company employs approximately 9,100 workers. National Beef processes and markets fresh beef, case-ready beef, beef by-products and wet-blue leather for domestic and international markets.

National Beef is a competitor to Tyson Foods, who is a major supplier to Wal-Mart.

• Kraft Foods to expand beverage plant
Kraft Foods is planning a $40 million expansion project at its plant in Granite City, Ill. The 660,000-square-foot plant produces more than 100 varieties of Capri Sun and Kool-Aid ready-to-drink beverages.

The company's expansion project would include new construction, additional equipment and reconfiguring existing equipment; the work would add four new lines to fill pouches of Capri Sun.

Kraft is a major supplier to Wal-Mart with a local sales office in Rogers.


The Supply Side: Wal-Mart supplier news briefs

• General Mills settles Yo-Plus class action
General Mills Inc. agreed to pay $8.5 million to settle a class action lawsuit accusing the company of falsely advertising the digestive health benefits of its Yo-Plus probiotic yogurt.

“We stand behind our products and the accuracy of our label – and we disagreed with plaintiffs on the merit of this case. But we agreed to resolve the matter to avoid further litigation,” General Mills noted in corporate statement following the announcement.

General Mills no longer sells Yo-Plus.

The class action complaint against General Mills alleged the company had no scientific support for Yo-Plus digestive health advertising claims. The alleged misleading advertisements allowed General Mills to charge up to a 44% price premium for Yo-Plus over Yoplait Original brand yogurt.

Consumers who purchased Yo-Plus in the U.S. between July 26, 2007, and July 5, 2012, will be entitled to $4 each for each unit they purchased, up to 13 units.

Any unclaimed funds from the $8.5 million class action lawsuit settlement will be distributed to the National Consumer Law Center and the Mayo Clinic, which will support Mayo’s nationwide public education efforts around nutrition and gastrointestinal health.

“Considering the strengths and weakness of this case, including the amount of potential damages available to the class after trial here and in other jurisdictions around the United States, the settlement represents an excellent result and includes relief for purchasers of YoPlus on a nationwide basis,” the plaintiffs said in a motion to approve the settlement.

General Mills has a large sales office in Rogers and is a major supplier to Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

• Old Navy tapped a new global chief marketing officer
Ivan Wicksteed, who most recently served as chief marketer for Cole Haan, will take on the role of global chief marketing officer, overseeing marketing and store design.

The Gap Inc.-owned retailer had been without a chief marketer since the summer of 2011.

Wicksteed will be relocating from New York to San Francisco, where he will report to Stefan Larsson, global president at Old Navy.

He has previously worked on the client side at Cole Haan, Coca-Cola and Converse, as well as the agency side at TBWA/Chiat/Day, Los Angeles, and Ammirati Puris Lintas, London.

Old Navy competes with Sam's Club and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in some apparel categories.