Central Garden & Pet is happy to help with both pets and pests. The company is among the largest US producers and distributors of lawn, garden, and pet supplies, providing its products to pet supplies retailers, home improvement centers, nurseries, and mass merchandisers ( Wal-Mart is its largest customer). It operates about 30 manufacturing plants and more than 25 distribution centers throughout the US; it also has sales offices in the UK. Central Garden & Pet's proprietary brand lines include AMDRO fire ant bait, Four Paws animal products, Kaytee bird seed, Nylabone dog chews, Norcal pottery, Pennington grass seed and bird seed products, and TFH pet books. Chairman William Brown controls the company.
In October 2014, the board of directors of Central Garden & Pet (CG&P) rebuffed a takeover offer by Harbinger Group to acquire all of its stock at $10 per share in cash, or, alternatively, to acquire the company's Pet segment for $750 million in cash. (The Pet segment had $888.2 million in sales in fiscal 2013, about 52% of the company's total.) The board said the offer did not reflect the company's future growth potential. The takeover proposal came amid falling sales and profits at the company.
To reverse its sliding sales and profits, CG&P is in the midst of a transformation from a portfolio of separately manged businesses into a unified structure, more akin to those of multibrand packaged goods companies. William Brown, the company's long-time chairman and CEO, stepped down as chief executive and turned the reins over to board member John Ranelli, to lead the transformation. Actions taken to improve the pet business included expense reductions, selective price increases, organizational changes to improve cross-functional communication, and closer collaboration with its retail customers, among other initiatives. Similar actions are being taken to improve the performance of CG&P'S garden business.
CP&G is working to build its existing brands and launch new products to increase sales.
The lawn, garden, and pet products maker's sales declined 3% in fiscal 2913 (ended September) versus the prior year, to $1.7 billion. The company posted a loss of $1.93 million, marking its fourth consecutive year of steeply declining profits, although it was its unprofitable year since fiscal 2008, when the company reported a huge loss. Garden segment sales decreased 0.5% year over year, while Pet segment sales declined by nearly 5%. The garden segment's lackluster results were blamed on a disappointing garden season, weak sales of two new products in which the company had invested heavily, a charge related to the new product launches, and other factors. Both the Garden and Pet products segments' sales suffered from the absence of an extra week in fiscal 2013. However, lower sales of animal health and pet nutrition products (due to lost distribution) conspired to drive down the Pet segment's sales.
Also, CP&G's profitability continued to be squeezed by higher than necessary levels of expense -- as a result of the reorganization -- and other inefficiencies.
Sales and Marketing
Central Garden & Pet relies heavily on just a few national retailer chains for much of its sales. The company's largest customer, Wal-Mart, accounts for 16% of total net sales, and about 30% of sales for the Garden segment. The Home Depot and Lowe's each accounted for 8% of annual sales. PetSmart accounted for 11% of the Pet segment's net sales. PETCO is also a big customer.
The company relies on a domestic sales network to promote its proprietary brands to some 4,500 independent specialty stores. CG&P also operates a sales and logistic facility in the UK.