K-C acts over Euro crisis

Kimberly-Clark, the paper products and household goods giant, has sent in its three most senior US marketers to sort out the crisis affecting its European operations.

It has made the head of US feminine care, Robert van der Merwe, president of K-C Europe. He will take over from European head John Van Steenberg, who is being moved to a new position of president of global development.

The company, which owns brands such as Huggies nappies, Kotex, Kleenex and Scott, an-nounced plans last November to axe 5,000 jobs and close 18 plants at a cost of over $800m. K-C has been hit by an inability to raise prices, particularly in Europe and tough competition in the European tissue market.

K-C says Van der Merwe will “apply K-C’s North American resources to strengthening its business sectors in Europe”.

This may involve cutting costs by eliminating excess capacity.

Van der Merwe will be joined by two other top US executives, Thomas Falk, who becomes president of the European tissue business, and Kathi Seifert, who will take responsibility for its European personal care business.

The appointment of the new team comes after K-C issued a profit warning last month, saying that first quarter earnings would be seriously hit by a fall in European sales.

At the time, chairman and chief executive Wayne Sanders said: “Earnings in Europe are substantially lower than expected. Our initiatives to improve sales volumes and reduce costs in the region’s highly competitive tissue market have not yet achieved the desired result.”

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