After six years' decline, patience wears thin
Friday 15 March 1996
Management, led by chairman Colin Short and chief executive Eric Nicoli, are "kitchen sinking" the results this time - hoping to draw a line under recent traumas. The worst is now over, they say. We thought about giving up and selling to anyone prepared to take us on. But in the end we decided to have a go. The result is New United Biscuits and the future looks bright. Few share their confidence.
The company has plenty of excuses for its miserable performance - the legacy of the previous management, the weather and nasty competitors that are just too powerful. As far as they go, they are all reasonable ones. However, tough decisions could undoubtedly have been taken earlier. Market conditions have been difficult for all food companies. Most have managed themselves better. UB does have strong brand names such as McVities and KP but has not made them pay. Its biscuit margins, for example, have fallen from 16 per cent to 10 per cent in the last six years. Its operating margins are now lower than those of Hillsdown Holdings, which operates in the more mundane areas of chickens and eggs. If brands are added value, where's the value?
So far management has been given the benefit of the doubt but executives must know they are drinking at last-chance saloon. Colin Short, the former ICI finance director who joined UB as chairman last year, is a fine man. As long as he and the non-executives stand behind Mr Nicoli, boardroom changes seem unlikely. But after six years of relative decline, patience is running thin.
South Korea ferry passengers who were told to stay put 'got trapped' aboard sinking ship
Are beards attractive? Ryan Gosling says yes, but science says no. Take the A-list facial hair challenge and find out who's right
Andre Johnson: Wu-Tang Clan-discovered rapper severed his penis and jumped from LA building
Oscar Pistorius trial: Defence witness 'unqualified' to testify
Oscar Pistorius trial: Defence witness contradicts athlete's version in new blow for defence team
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
US Navy christens huge $3 billion destroyer ship USS Zumwalt that appears as a fishing boat on enemy radar
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
Nigel Farage on Have I Got News For You: Ukip leader ridiculed over expenses and party 'fruitcakes'
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
- 1 Poveglia: 'World's most haunted island' up for sale...is anyone brave enough to buy it?
- 2 Babies cry at night to stop mothers procreating, scientists claim
- 3 24 people applied for the 'world's toughest job', here are their interviews
- 4 Andre Johnson: Wu-Tang Clan-discovered rapper severed his penis and jumped from LA building
- 5 Mrs Doubtfire 2: Robin Williams set to star in sequel to 1993 comedy
iJobs Money & Business
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...
£221.25 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a well established Inter...
£40000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Client Relationship Manager - SQL...
£35000 - £50000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: Take your chance to join the...