Spotlight On... Indra Nooyi, chief executive, PepsiCo
Stephen Foley is a former Associate Business Editor of The Independent, based in New York. He left in August 2012. In a decade at the paper, he covered personal finance, the UK stock market and the pharmaceuticals industry, and had also been the Business section's share tipster. Between arriving with three suitcases in Manhattan in January 2006 and his departure, he witnessed and reported on a great economic boom turning spectacularly to bust. In March 2009, he was named Business and Finance Journalist of the Year at the British Press Awards.
Wednesday 08 February 2012
The Cola Queen?
Wrong and wrong. PepsiCo is more than just the famous cola. It makes snacks including Frito-Lay crisps, cereals including Quaker Oats and juices such as Tropicana. And Ms Nooyi's crown has definitely slipped.
But isn't she one of the most powerful women in business?
No bigger company had a female boss when the Indian-born executive was promoted to the top spot at Pepsi in 2006, and Ms Nooyi is still a hot ticket at those hifalutin' celebrations of globalisation such as the World Economic Forum in Davos. It's just a shame about Pepsi's results.
Not the share price. That's been flat over her tenure, while Coca-Cola's has surged by a half. Coke's latest results, out yesterday, showed that profits are fizzing; Pepsi's tomorrow are likely to be weak. The company has been conducting a strategy review, which some investors hope will be a rebuke to Ms Nooyi and perhaps even lead to a break-up of the firm.
But what's gone wrong?
Pepsi has lost market share to Coke all over the world, but nowhere more humiliatingly than in the US where it once rivalled Coca-Cola for the No 1 slot. Last year, it was pushed down to No 3, being eclipsed by Diet Coke.
Ah, that'll be why Pepsi is suddenly all over the TV
It ploughed $60m (£38m) into sponsoring The X Factor USA and hired Elton John for its Superbowl commercial, but that's just the start. Word is it plans a big jobs cull to pay for an even bigger marketing push.
But are its troubles really Ms Nooyi's fault?
Her strategy has been to push new products that she calls "good for you" brands such as yoghurts, health bars and juices – a strategy that investors blame for the malaise in the core business. Too much time in Davos trying to change the world, they say, and not enough focus on the gloopy realities of fizzy drinks.
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