Outlook: Cadbury snack

THE LAST six months have not been kind to John Sunderland, the well- groomed chief executive of Cadbury-Schweppes. Ever since he announced the proposed pounds 1.1bn sale of Cadbury's non-US soft drinks interests to Coca-Cola, the shares have been falling as regulators around the world queued up to block it.

The result has been a much-watered down version of the original, with the European sale abandoned completely and the sale in countries like Australia, South Africa and Mexico mired in regulatory negotiations. But with $700m due to be banked imminently from the first stage of the process, attention is turning back to where Cadbury goes next.

A look at the group's half year figures announced yesterday shows the company certainly needs a deal. In North America its Dr Pepper drinks brand is outperforming the market. But the Seven Up lemon and lime brand is going backwards as usual. The problem again is Coca Cola, which ambushed Seven-Up in the key southern California market in July. The Atlanta giant bought up huge amounts of retail shelf space for its Sprite brand, blasting Seven Up out of the market for nearly a month.

In chocolate the results were sticky too, particularly in Europe. Germany has slumped into loss, hit by the Russian crisis, the French market has declined and the UK stronghold was hit by de-stocking by wholesalers.

What should Mr Sunderland do? One option would be to pull out of beverages completely, but the only likely buyers are Coke and Pepsi, and the regulators would never wear it. Fortunately, these businesses do have their redeeming features - they throw off huge amounts of cash. More likely, then, is a confectionery deal. Mr Sunderland admits he is looking.

Chocolate is a surprisingly fragmented market when viewed from a global perspective, with even Nestle, the market leader, accounting for only 11 per cent, followed by Mars with 9 per cent. Cadbury has 6.5 per cent. A deal to buy Lindt of Switzerland, Ferrero of Italy or Suchard, part of Philip Morris, would put Cadbury in the premier league. Unfortunately, it is not clear these businesses are up for sale, or that Cadbury could afford the price.

Mr Sunderland has proved a patient, reliable pair of hands so far. But if he can't find a use for his cash soon, he may find that one of the bigger boys in the sector will gobble Cadbury up as its mid-morning snack.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
British musician Mark Ronson arrives for the UK premiere of the film 'Mortdecai'
music
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Sport
footballBrighton vs Arsenal match report
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Tax Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Tax Assistant is required to join a leading ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - OTE £25,000

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Developer - Watford - £45,000 - £47,000

£45000 - £47000 per annum + bonus + benefits: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / ...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Product Manager - (Financial Services) - SW London

£35000 - £38000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Marke...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us