Galen: Could Loblaws buy Heinz’s discarded Leamington plant?

Pre-reading NOTE: Work has taken me to SW Ontario a great deal this year, so Heinz announcing the closure of its Leamington, Ontario, operations stuck in my head. Another warning, I am gearing up the for winter semester and back in MBA “shared value creation” mode.

Apparently, Heinz’s announcement to close a Canadian plant fits into a cost-cutting strategy that will bring more production capacity (and jobs!) to its U.S. operations. I am sure the “business case” is rock solid and we can’t expect a profit-motivated U.S. corporation to care about tomato farmers in Canada, can we?

But can we expect a profit-motivated Canadian corporation to care?

What if Loblaws bought the plant? They could in-source the production of it’s store-brand ketchup, which is a logically defensible business move. I am sure that someone could create a business case, but I wonder how they would account for:

  1. Goodwill created for Canadian consumers by creating jobs in Canada
  2. Enhancement to the Weston family legacy at home and abroad
  3. Role-modelling examples of the possibilities of creating shared value (Can I call “dibs” on writing up the case?)
  4. Any other off shoots that create value for a distinct group.

It would take a good deal of analysis to look at how this could work and there may be some obvious things that I am missing due to lack of expertise. One thing that hangs up such ideas is how to account for the various kinds of value it creates.

I would welcome thoughts and insights on how/why this could or couldn’t work. (Get into small groups and discuss.)