Alliances in transition

Sooner or later every alliance will reach a transition point: the alliance may have served it’s purpose, conditions might have changed for a partner or markets might have changed. With any of these situations an alliance reaches a transition point. Transition in this case is often more than just a termination, after transition an alliance can continue in an adjusted format.

In the Senseo alliance Philips and Sara Lee appeared to have reached a transition point when the Sara Lee organization decided to split the organization in two separate publicly traded companies by early 2012. One of the companies would be concentrating on the foodservice business of Sara Lee while the other “would consist of Sara Lee’s international beverage and bakery businesses, with coffee brands such as Senseo, Douwe Egberts and Pickwick”. With this change in the business for Sara Lee, the Senseo alliance with Philips became of a different importance for the coffee business of Sara Lee. It was no longer one of many brands, but within the narrowed company focus it became one of the few major brands.

On Jan 26, 2012 Philips and Sara Lee announced to have renegotiated the Senseo alliance and signed a new contract which will run through 2020. In the new contract Philips will transfer its 50% ownership in the Senseo brand to Sara Lee. In the press coverage around the announcement Sara Lee Executive Chairman Jan Bennink was quoted, “the future of the coffee business would be concentrated on a strategy focussing on the Senseo coffee-pad machine.”

From the outside looking at this alliance it appears to have reached a transition point. How about your alliances, do you recognize moments where you reached a transition point and continued the alliance in an adjusted format?

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