Thursday, August 5, 2004

Campbell's Soup reconstitutes itself

Ready-to-eat offerings, new outlets boost sales

By Geoff Mulvihill
The Associated Press

MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. - Campbell's Soup, a longtime fixture in American homes, is taking on a new role: the food for people on the run.

So at Nasser Nasser's 7-Eleven in Hackensack, N.J., the spots next to the microwave and the sandwich case are now the domain of Campbell's ready-to-serve soups.

Campbell Soup Co. is increasingly turning to outlets such as 7-Eleven and Subway to get soup on the minds of the hurrying public. The shift in strategy, a move away from the company's dependence on supermarkets, is one of the innovations Campbell has made in hopes of reviving stagnant sales.

At Nasser's store, a marketing company set up displays for Campbell and the owner said they are helping sales.

Campbell, which has struggled for years with a shrinking market share, has gone through a three-year restructuring and is still working to remake itself. In June, the food conglomerate and world's largest soup maker announced a lower earnings forecast and a reduction of 400 employees from its worldwide payroll of 25,000. Most of the job cuts came through layoffs, and 40 percent were at the company's headquarters.

The company's familiar condensed soups - its biggest and most profitable business - had long seen sales declining. New marketing efforts and reconstituted soups have slowed the losses, but did not reverse them.

The company did well with its ready-to-serve varieties, including the drinkable Soup at Hand line introduced during the restructuring.

The Chunky Soup ready-to-serve line is also growing.

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