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Jul 08, 2014 • By

Investor Day focuses on our consumers

Today I was with General Mills executives on Wall Street for the company’s annual Investor Day event at the New York Stock Exchange.

After we rang the opening bell, our executives spoke with analysts about the company’s innovation-fueled plans for growth in Fiscal 2015. (Here’s video from the bell ringing this morning).

The key theme emerging from today’s presentations was the company’s commitment to its consumers and how this will drive topline growth in the new fiscal year.

“Our number one priority in 2015 is to accelerate our topline growth. And our key strategy for doing that is to focus more tightly than ever on our consumers – what they like to eat, where they like to shop, and how they approach cooking today,” said Ken Powell, chairman and CEO, as he kicked off this morning’s meeting. “Our portfolio focus and our consumer focus position us well for growth in 2015 and beyond.”

Ken also talked about our new product lineup on CNBC.

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Here are some reactions from several of our leaders who participated in Investor Day:

Jeff Harmening, executive vice president, chief operating officer, U.S. Retail:

“We’re planning for growth in U.S. Retail in Fiscal 2015. Our consumer-first mindset will help drive mid single-digit topline growth, including the benefit of the 53rd week. We’re prioritizing cereal, yogurt, and better-for-you snacks. And we’ll leverage holistic margin management to fund consumer investment and help deliver mid single-digit profit growth.”

This year General Mills is bringing a wealth of consumer-driven renovation, innovation, and investment to its categories.

“In all, we’ll launch more than 140 new products in the first half of 2015. The quality of these ideas excites me – we’ve engaged deeply with consumers and we’re creating foods that meet their needs.”

To see the new products launching this summer across U.S. Retail and around the world, check out the General Mills New Product Look Book.

Shawn O’Grady, senior vice president, president, Sales and Channel Development:

“U.S. consumers spend more than $650 billion dollars annually on groceries, and on average, they shop across five different channels.”

“Our sales team is committed to winning across all channels, especially where there is high growth, delivering advantaged merchandising behind our biggest brands, and continuing to grow our fair share of distribution at the shelf.”

“We’ll continue to expand our online business across all of our product offerings as we strengthen our presence on virtual shelf sets and experiment with new digital promotional events.”

“With our strong brand portfolio, we believe we can increase our product distribution in all outlets with all types of consumers.”

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Chris O’Leary, executive vice president, chief operating officer, International:

“A consumer-first mindset is just as important for our international business as it is for the U.S.”

“Häagen-Dazs is delivering a luxury experience for European consumers with new Triple Sensations. This line of mini-cups delivers three layers of indulgence in every bite.” Chris also noted that Greater China will expand its geographic presence for Haagen-Dazs by opening more than 80 new shops and entering 16 new cities.

In Brazil, Chris mentioned that our Yoki products are in all World Cup venues in Brazil and we’ve launched new world flavors of Yoki snack products.

“Cereal category growth in developed markets has slowed, along with overall food and beverage trends. So we’re taking a consumer-first approach to find growth opportunities.  For example, we’re seeing an increasing desire for gluten-free products in Europe, not unlike the trend in the U.S.  To respond, we reformulated our corn flakes to make them gluten free.”

Chris also mentioned that in Canada, we’re offering a new Ancient Grains variety of Multi Grain Cheerios for people who consider themselves a “healthful foodie.” And we’re offering new flavors of Liberte Greek yogurt in the UK and Yopa! yogurt in France.

Bethany Quam, vice president, president, Convenience Stores & Foodservice:

“We’ll put the consumer first by focusing on our great brands and product innovation in away-from-home food outlets.”

General Mills delivers products to more than one million locations where people eat food away from home. Bethany said her team is prioritizing the channels where food and beverage sales are showing the best prospects for future growth: K-12 schools, colleges and university, and convenience stores.

“We know that c-store consumers are looking for baked goods in the morning as the packaged bakery category generates nearly $2 billion dollars in sales. We’ve been testing several baked goods products with a national c-store customer with good results, so a new line of Pillsbury ready-to-eat bakery products will hit store shelves later this year.”

“We’re also driving growth by partnering with key restaurant customers. This month, McDonald’s began offering Go-Gurt yogurt in a tube in their Happy Meals for kids. This is a side option in Happy Meals at 14,000 McDonald’s locations across the U.S.”

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Don Mulligan, chief financial officer:

“We’re targeting mid-single digit growth in constant-currency net sales, including benefit of the 53rd week. We’re also targeting mid-single digit growth in constant-currency segment operating profit.  We expect our ongoing HMM discipline and our new cost-reduction initiatives to offset inflation and fund increased media investment, which is expected to grow above the rate of net sales”.

“We expect adjusted diluted EPS to grow at a high single-digit rate in constant currency from the base of $2.82 per share achieved in 2014.”

“We believe this level of earnings growth, combined with the attractive dividend yield of GIS stock, should generate a double-digit return for our shareholders.”

More information

An archive of today’s webcast is available on the Investor Relations page on GeneralMills.com.

Check back here tomorrow on A Taste of General Mills for a behind the scenes look at Investor Day 2014.