Tags: Unilever | Skippy | Peanut | Butter

Unilever Said to Put Skippy Peanut Butter Brand Up for Sale

Thursday, 04 Oct 2012 07:25 AM

Unilever Plc is looking for a buyer for its Skippy peanut butter brand, which may fetch $300 million to $400 million, said two people with knowledge of the matter.

The company has hired Lazard Ltd. to help conduct the sale and started shopping the business this week, said the people, who asked not to be named because the plans are private. Unilever is working to pare down some of its food assets to focus on health and beauty products. In the U.S. peanut butter market, Skippy is a distant second to J.M. Smucker Co.’s Jif.

“It makes sense,” said Bryan Gildenberg, an analyst with London-based consulting firm Kantar Retail. “Unilever has been public about their desire to position themselves as more of a personal care company than a food company.”

Unilever, based in Rotterdam, Holland, isn’t exiting the food business. The company is pruning some of the brands and businesses that it doesn’t feel are core to its portfolio, one of the people said. In August, the company completed the sale of its P.F. Chang’s and Bertolli frozen meals businesses to ConAgra Foods Inc. for $267 million.

“As part of a recently completed strategic review, we decided to explore various options for the Skippy business in the U.S. and Canada, including but not limited to a potential sale,” Anita Larsen, a spokeswoman for Unilever, said in a phone interview.

Judi Mackey, a spokeswoman for Lazard, didn’t respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

Skippy had revenue of $300 million and 18.1 percent of the U.S. peanut butter market, not including sales at Wal-Mart stores Inc., for the year ended Sept. 9, according to market researcher SymphonyIRI Group. Jif had 34 percent of the market during that time, Chicago-based SymphonyIRI said.

Skippy was founded in 1933. The brand hired actress Annette Funicello to appear in television commercials in the 1970s. While the brand is iconic, competing with Smucker’s in that business is tough, Gildenberg said.

“There’s a chance that the brand is worth more to someone else,” Gildenberg said. “There are more fun things to be than an underscaled competitor to Smucker’s.”

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Unilever Plc is looking for a buyer for its Skippy peanut butter brand, which may fetch $300 million to $400 million, said two people with knowledge of the matter.
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Thursday, 04 Oct 2012 07:25 AM
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