New Procter & Gamble (P&G) chief executive Alan Lafley this week committed himself to the course set by ousted predecessor Durk Jager.
He insists only slight changes to the balance of P&G’s priorities are needed to get his ship back on course.
In his first interview about future plans, Lafley played down P&G’s share price collapse as “an over-reaction”, dismissed rumours about possible disposals as “rubbish”, and insisted that P&G’s core strategy and vision remains unchanged.
“Even with a few stumbles, this year it is going to be record unit volumes, all-time record sales, and even with our troubles in the second half, all-time record profits,” he declared.
“You check me out,” he added, “We are definitely on a drive-change, lead-change, transformational strategy across this company.”
Lafley, who is on a “meet the troops” tour with chairman John Pepper, admitted however, that in the rush to innovate under Jager, P&G had overlooked its core brands. “When you are just a little bit out of balance in a company like ours, where ten or 12 brands account for half of our sales and more than half our profits, it can have an impact.
“The biggest thing I am going to try to do is bring a sense of balance to the whole thing and try to help the organisation make some clear choices and set some clear priorities.”
Lafley praised P&G’s UK operation as “one of our biggest and most successful subsidiaries” but admitted that the UK had seen “a temporary pause in our rapid progress. We grew, but we are not growing as fast as we used to.” Also, with P&G’s Organisation 2005 programme, “we put Western Europe through more change than the rest of the world”.
On disposals, he said “we have just decided we are going to organise around the current portfolio.”