Todd Stitzer: “Cadbury lusted after being the largest chocolate company in the world”
Todd Stitzer had been working for Cadbury Schweppes for nearly 20 years when he was called by its chief executive one day in February 2000 and handed a mission to complete. Harvard-educated and ambitious, the 47-year-old American, then based in Dallas, Texas, had won attention at Cadbury’s London headquarters for masterminding the acquisition of several soft drinks brands in the US, including 7UP and Dr Pepper. Now his boss, John Sunderland, wanted him to move to London to do the same thing for the confectionery side of the business: get out there and start buying companies.
It had been three decades since a merger between a revered British confectionery group and a soft drinks brand created by a German-Swiss watchmaker had formed Cadbury Schweppes, and Sunderland had made some decisions about the company’s future. Cadbury was number three in the global soft drinks market, but he knew it would never overtake the two leaders, Coca-Cola and Pepsi. On the other hand, the market for chocolate and other sweets was much more open, split among a big group of international companies including Mars, Wrigley, Kraft, Hershey, Ferrero and Nestlé. “We had a real opportunity to become the leading confectionery house,” Sunderland says.
IN FT MAGAZINE
Dear Mr M – my very own sporting hero
It’s who you hardly know that counts
Do strengths or weaknesses matter more at work?
Looking for clues for heart disease – in the bedroom
Two weeks after his discussions with Sunderland, Stitzer moved from New York to London to become the company’s chief strategy officer. He put together a team to evaluate possible acquisitions and got to work. After one more big soft-drinks deal – the purchase in late 2000 of Snapple for £986m from Triarc, an American restaurant chain – Stitzer’s team turned its attention to confectionery companies. “Forever Cadbury lusted after being the...