NEW YORK–Speaking at Lehman Brothers’ Back To School Conference on Thursday, Mark Ketchum, Newell Rubbermaid president and chief executive officer, told listeners the company wants to become brand- and consumer-centric, as well as expand opportunities abroad to become less North American-centric.
Several of its business units, including Home and Family, hold opportunities to expand on existing brands, as evidenced by the recent introduction of “heating electrics” from Calphalon. Just launched at a limited number of retailers, the new line includes a contact grill, convection oven, waffle iron and slow cooker.
Overall, Ketchum said it will look to have a “good-sized acquisition every few years,” with several smaller ones every year, and which includes a Japanese children’s product company and a global provider of restroom hygiene systems this year.
The company also wants to increase its business worldwide. “We’re operating in categories that, frankly, have a global share that’s pretty small,” Ketchum said, and only four of its brands have more than half of their global sales outside North America. Levolor, Rubbermaid and Calphalon are among the company’s brands with less than 10 percent of global sales outside North America. “There’s no reason why brands can’t be outside the U.S.,” he said.
Its sourced finished goods segment, which was about 17 percent in 2001, will increase to an estimate of about half of its business in 2010, Ketchum added.
Other parts of the company’s portfolio have shrunk drastically. The commoditized segment of its business, 44 percent of sales in 2003, has been largely downsized, and is expected to be 3 percent next year, with its premium consumer segment the majority segment at 57 percent, he said. It also narrowed its manufacturing facilities from 136 in 2001 to an expected estimate of about 40 in 2010.