Nestlé: Betting on big brands

Mark Schneider pours a can of cold brew Nitro Nescafé coffee in the company’s head office overlooking Lake Geneva, Switzerland. He points out the distinctive cream “head” on the dark liquid. “You see that foam building up!” he exclaims. Testing new products is the fun part of heading the world’s largest food and drinks company. More difficult for Nestlé’s 52-year old German chief executive is rebuilding sales growth and profits in an industry roiled by rapid changes in consumer tastes, increasingly severe cost competition and a plethora of mergers and acquisitions. With annual revenues last year of SFr90bn ($91bn), Nestlé is larger than Japan’s Sony and just smaller than Russian energy producer Gazprom. Its best-known brands include KitKat chocolate bars, Perrier bottled water and Purina pet food. But size per se is looking less attractive. Nestlé’s sales growth has slowed substantially , smaller rivals and start-ups have taken market share and the company’s shares have fallen ...

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