stablished in 1939, Consolidated Food Corporation from Chicago changed its name to that of its most popular brand in 1985: Sara Lee. The Sara Lee/DE brand had been around since the previous year, and in 1987 the multinational took over Akzo´s body care and household products, which Akzo itself had acquired from Kortman Intradal. In 2009, Sara Lee sold this divi- sion to Unilever. Sara Lee now employs some 20,000 people and has a turnover of nine billion dollars.
In The Netherlands, Sara Lee is best known for its Douwe Egberts, Senseo and Pickwick brands. At the beginning of 2011, the com- pany announced that it hoped to give the coffee and tea division autonomy in 2012, led by former Numico top man Jan Bennink. The turnover from this division amounts to approximately 37% of the company´s total turnover. Marnix Tax is based out of Sara Lee’s head office for Europe and western Asia in Utrecht, The Netherlands. He is directly respon- sible for his own corporate team of 20.
When were you first faced with integration? “In 1998. We were struggling to make the most of our size and scale. Douwe Egberts, Intradal...it was a mixed bag of businesses whilst what we needed were chain-wide, uniform work processes. From ’98 onwards, my team developed the blueprints for these in terms of aligning the purchasing processes, and subsequently put in the groundwork for our decision to switch to SAP. It was a mammoth and constructive task yet strangely unsatisfying, since there was no sense of it having a direct impact on performance. That’s why I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to become
Work and travel: “I am in the office in Utrecht, Mondays to Thursdays, from quarter to nine until six. On Fridays I work from home. On average, I spend one day a week on the road. That used to be two. Since 2008, we have been cutting back on unnecessary travel. If we need to schedule a two- hour meeting, we will try scheduling a conference call first, whereas previ- ously I would have flown to Paris or Barcelona to meet in person. Some- times I´ll have a conference call with twelve or fifteen other people, which is fine as long as you have a good rapport, everyone is well prepared and you let everyone finish their sentences. I don´t use the laptop much in the evenings, and at weekends work is banned.”
Transport: “I´m not really interested in cars. I drive a Volvo V 70 station: lots of room for my sailing gear.”
Hobbies: “Sailing! I used to take part in competitions when I was a student, mainly in a Vaurien, which is a two-man dinghy, but I haven’t lost my pas- sion for sailing since. I sign up for a week’s sailing every year. Six of us go out on a boat and we realise again and again just how important it is for the members of the team to be able to anticipate each other’s moves. I regularly rent a boat with the kids too. I prefer this to having my own boat and having to worry about maintenance and the obligation of using it all the time. Each of the boys has his own Splash, a small boat. I like to get