Kimberly-Clark Focuses on Importance of Innovation, Marketing, Customer Development at Annual Meeting
DALLAS,- At Kimberly-Clark’s (NYSE: KMB) annual meeting today, Chairman and CEO Thomas J. Falk described how the company is further improving three capabilities—innovation, marketing and customer development—that are critical to its growth plans.
In voting matters at the meeting, K-C stockholders re-elected three directors to three-year terms expiring in 2010. Directors who were re-elected are James M. Jenness, Chairman of the Board, Kellogg Company; Linda Johnson Rice, President and Chief Executive Officer, Johnson Publishing Company, Inc.; and Marc J. Shapiro, retired Vice Chairman, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.
Two directors had previously announced their intention not to stand for re-election when their current terms expired. Pastora San Juan Cafferty, Professor Emerita, University of Chicago, and Claudio X. Gonzalez, Chairman of the Board, Kimberly-Clark de Mexico, S.A.B. de C.V., completed their service as directors effective with today’s annual meeting. Each served as a Kimberly-Clark director for more than 30 years.
Shareholders approved management proposals to select Deloitte & Touche LLP as the independent registered public accounting firm for Kimberly-Clark and to amend the company’s Certificate of Incorporation to elect each director annually as the current director’s term expires. Last September, Kimberly-Clark’s board voted to recommend that shareholders approve amendments that would eliminate the company’s classified board structure.
Shareholders also approved a shareholder proposal regarding supermajority voting. They defeated other shareholder proposals calling for adoption of global human rights standards based on International Labor Conventions and requesting K-C to prepare a report assessing the feasibility of phasing out the use of non-FSC certified fiber within 10 years. K-C, in fact, commissioned an FSC feasibility study late last year. The report concluded that it should be possible for the company to increase its use of FSC-certified fiber during the next 10 years, but not to rely exclusively on it.
Good Progress with Innovation
Falk told shareholders today that insights into the wants and needs of customers, shoppers and users continue to drive everything the company does. He cited the launch of two new products, Huggies Supreme Gentle Care and Huggies Supreme Natural Fit diapers, which address the No. 1 priority of many moms – their baby’s comfort. These innovative products, launched simultaneously in North America and Europe in the third quarter last year, increased volume and market share for K-C’s diaper business in both geographies.
Enhancing Marketing Capabilities
In the marketing arena, K-C is focused on taking performance to the next level, capitalizing on the strong emotional connections between the company’s powerful brands and consumers. Falk said that, under K-C’s new marketing organization, the company expects to maximize its global and enterprise-wide opportunities, capture and leverage insights that drive growth, identify and adopt best practices, and continue to develop great talent.
Connecting With Customers
Kimberly-Clark has implemented a series of initiatives to further strengthen its relationships with customers and better position K-C as their “indispensable partner,” Falk noted. The company, for example, is hosting innovation summits with leading U.S. and European retailers to gain early support for new products and create mutually beneficial business plans. Other initiatives include collaborating with customers to take costs out of the supply chain and to use such proprietary technology as K-C’s virtual store tool to explore new store concepts, shelf sets and fixture designs.
“Since we introduced our Global Business Plan in mid-2003, we have been putting the right pieces in place to generate sustainable top- and bottom-line growth,” Falk said. “An important part of that plan is to build on the company’s strong heritage in innovation, marketing and customer development, and we are making excellent progress.”
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