In reporting the retirement of Mondelez boss Irene Rosenfeld, The Times called her ‘the most reviled woman in UK corporate history’. After spearheading Kraft’s hostile £11.7bn raid of Cadbury in 2010, workers, MPs and the public won’t have forgotten her promises to keep the historic Somerdale factory open before the takeover, only to swiftly u-turn once the deal was sealed, while she also held both Parliament and the British media in contempt.
But the antipathy goes deeper than that. As cases of vulture capitalism go, it was so bad for Britain the Takeover Code was changed. It also didn’t work. No sooner was the deal done than this behemoth, with all its supposed synergies, was split in two, with Cadbury spun out into Mondelez.
But most sad of all is the damage to Cadbury and sister brand Green & Black’s, with commitments to Fairtrade and even organic (in the case of Green & Black’s) watered down. Rosenfeld’s way of doing business was not only alien to Cadbury’s roots, it’s out of sync with the times. It’s why small, authentic healthy snack makers are running rings round Mondelez.