The Danger of Disregarding Your Workforce in M&A

When major American food manufacturer Kraft Foods purchased Cadbury, a British multinational confectionery company, in 2010, roughly 165 senior staff members from Cadbury left the company shortly after the deal closed. Some, like John Bradley, former Cadbury World executive, attribute the departures to Kraft’s negligence for Cadbury’s strong brand heritage.

“Kraft [seemed] not to care one iota about the history and tradition of Cadbury,” Bradley said. “They think they have just bought a series of brand names that they are going to integrate in their business just like they did Ritz Crackers and Toblerone…they seem to not understand what they bought.”[1]

Bradley was referring to Cadbury’s workforce. It was the missing piece in Kraft’s strategy, and it is not uncommon for business leaders to underestimate, or disregard entirely, the value of workforce and culture during a merger or acquisition. But in today’s environment – one where employees are either the catalyst or inhibitor for organizational transformation – it is no longer an option. The role of workforce must be top of mind from start to finish to position your transaction for success.

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