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Sara Lee Corp. reportedly will reduce the number of bakery brands it manufactures, eliminating slow movers and marginal brand names and focusing on three national brands and its best-known regional labels. The company will stay in the private label bread business, however.

"Seventy-one of our brands draw only six percent of net branded sales," according to COO Richard Noll, who spoke to analysts yesterday. The company will work to figure out how to transition consumers out of its small brands and into its better-known varieties.

Part of the problem, Noll said, is that Sara Lee’s $1.7 billion acquisition of Earthgrains Co. in 2001 hasn’t lived up to expectations, and now the company needs to be more efficient to make up for flagging volumes and margins.
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