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What’s Your Wheelhouse: Candy or Cat Food?

Recently, Mars Incorporated (private) announced an offer to acquire Linnaeus Group, a veterinary services group for an undisclosed amount. Within the last 12 months they have made more than six veterinary service, diagnostic or pet product acquisitions. Turns out, Mars Inc., best known for its chocolate bars: Snickers, Milky Way, and Mars Bar has been in the petcare business for a long time. Stemming back to 1911 and employing over 90,000 globally, Mars is run by the Mars family and lists five brands:

  • Mars Petcare

  • Mars Wrigley Confectionery

  • Food (e.g. Uncle Ben’s Rice)

  • Drink (e.g. Flavia Coffees/Teas)

  • Symbioscience (tech: food, plant, biomedical, and life science)

Does Mars’s sweet tooth for acquisitions outside its wheelhouse place it at risk or “diworsification”? While some try to place the company in the food processing or nutrition industries, Mars states that it makes a lot more than chocolate. Going back to 1947, it has established five core principles that guide the company:

  1. Quality: the consumer is the boss, deliver value for money

  2. Mutuality: that each supply chain stakeholder should benefit

  3. Freedom: freedom to shape the future and profit sustains that freedom

  4. Efficiency: waste nothing

  5. Responsibility: employee accountability; accountability to the planet and to future generations

Turns out, successful conglomerates with very diverse subsidiary portfolios such as Berkshire Hathaway and Virgin for example all share similar corporate principles and practices:

  1. Solid Strategy and Focus: core competency, follow a category segment, know targets

  2. Investment in Human Capital and Talent Selection: engage, develop, retain; evidence-based best practices

  3. Optimal Supply Chain, Distribution, Channel Management

  4. Technical, Data Analytics Expertise; Pragmatic and Rapid Integration

  5. Social Responsibility: People, Planet, Profit, Purpose

Mars has been listed multiple years within "Top 100 Companies to Work For" by Fortune. Symbioscience was founded in 2005 as an innovation incubator to investigate and commercialize potential therapeutic applications of bioactive compounds, cocoa being the first such investigated compound. Health benefits explored: reversing memory decline, lowering blood pressure increasing blood vessel functioning in individuals with kidney disease. Each Mars brand has optimized its supply chain, distribution and channels management. But it has done so focusing on maximizing profit, as well as mutual benefit to local farmers/economies, as well as to our planet. Its “Sustainable in a Generation Plan” includes evaluation and evidence-based activities that focus on water stewardship, sustainable land-use, waste reduction, and genomic projects (that they open-source) so that increasing yield, decreasing consumption and waste will lead to zero impact on the global climate.

Mars reported $35 billion in revenue for 2017, a majority of it from petcare. It has facilities in more than 60 countries and sells products in over 150 countries.

Contemplating investing in a new addition to your portfolio? Want to be innovative, but aren’t sure where to begin? Looking to optimize your supply chain? Trying to create new company culture and principles? Going on vacation...but the project work is not??

Please visit or call 646-600-5421 to get started. Barclay Consulting, we are the scalable management consulting solution.

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