A cup ahead of others

By: trademagazin Date: 2007. 06. 27. 08:00

The Hungarian subsidiary of Sara Lee has American, Dutch and Hungarian “blood” flowing in its veins. Their main strength is that they are usually one step ahead of the market. They notice consumer needs instead of inventing them. The history of Sara Lee Hungary probably began in a small Dutch city called Joure, where Egbert Douwes opened a small shop in 1753. His family had continued to run the business which grew into an empire for almost two centuries. In the 1960’s, there was a bakery in Chicago, owned by a man called Lee and named Sara after the owner’s daughter. This bakery was purchased by Consolidated Foods in 1985, who had also acquired Douwe Egberts a few years earlier. Out of strategic considerations, their name was later changed to Sara Lee Corporation. In the meantime, a company called Compack began processing and packaging coffee in Hungary in 1949. Later they also started to sell tea and chemical products. They built a huge plant in Rákospalota in 1981, which is now the manufacturing base for Sara Lee. Omnia coffee became their leading brand in the 1970’s. In 1991, Compack was among the first companies to be privatised. Douwe Egberts N.V. was very fortunate to have been able to acquire Compack, since its major brands (Omnia, Karaván, Horváth Rozi, Sir Morton, Ambi Pur, Gabi, Chemotox etc.) continued to grow during the 1990’s. HUF 5 billion has been spent on the plant in Rákospalota in the past 10 years, which allowed its tea processing capacity to be tripled. Coffee and tea processing equipment has been modernised, as well as the IT system. In 1999, the company adopted the name of the American mother company Sara Lee. In 2000, they revised their assortment and began focusing on the key categories. As a result, three divisions were formed: Coffee and Tea Retail, Catering and Household and Body Care, which is under separate control. At present, they have 450 employees, which makes them the biggest Sara Lee subsidiary in the region. According to Tibor Seres, president and CEO of Sara Lee Hungary Zrt., consumer trends require them to remain flexible but they also maintain their commitment to development.

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