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History of Sara Lee Sara Lee Corporation was founded in 1939 when Nathan Cummings a Canadian entrepreneur bought a small company names C D Kenny Company It was mainly a distributor of sugar coffee and tea out of Baltimore Maryland With his progressive marketing skills and management techniques he rapidly expanded the corporation Nathan Cummings acquired Sprague Warner Company a national packaged goods distributor in 1942 From there he changed the name to Sprague Warner- Kenny Corporation and moved the headquarters to Chicago and began a radical expansion that set the aggressive tone for the next fifty years After acquiring many key companies he changed the name again in 1945 to Consolidated Grocers Corporation The next year his company became a New York Stock Exchange listed corporation By 1953 sales had risen to over two hundred million and had many parts being processing packaging and distributing companies The third name change took place now that would hold for the next thirty-two years Consolidated Foods Corporation To secure a strong hold in the frozen baked goods industry the Chicago- based Sara Lee kitchens were acquired After this acquisition came the first foreign investments a Venezuelan sauce and vinegar company and a canned goods producer Jonker Fris The next company that came along was Oxford Chemical Corporation a cleaning product manufacturer in 1966 Additional food companies were acquired in the early 1970s being Bryan Foods Hillshire Farm and Rudys Farm Through these acquisitions Consolidated Foods was now a part of direct sales personal care and apparel The President elected was John H Bryan in 1974 He has now been chairman of the board since 1976 and has overseen the diversifications of the corporation in three categories Food and Beverage Intimates and Underwear and Household Products Mr Bryan has also seen the fourth name change in 1985 to Sara Lee Corporation Over the last twelve years Sara Lee has developed
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