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Nestle Needs Three-Year 'Time Out' From Organic Growth Target -- CEO

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02/16/2017 | 12:15pm CEST

By Brian Blackstone

VEVEY, Switzerland--Nestlé SA Chief Executive Ulf Mark Schneider said Thursday that the consumer-products giant needs a "time out" from a longstanding growth target that it has failed to achieve in recent years, reflecting global economic headwinds and changes in the consumer-goods industry.

Earlier Thursday, Nestle said organic sales--which strip out the effects of currency fluctuations, acquisitions and divestments--grew just 3.2% in 2016, down from 4.2% in 2015. It was the fourth straight year that Nestlé had missed its 5-6% growth objective, known as the "Nestlé Model."

Nestle also said its objective would be to achieve "mid-single-digit organic growth" as opposed to the 5-6% range it has long sought, but only starting in 2020. That leaves the company without a target growth rate for the next three years.

"This is a time out from that model," Mr. Schneider said in an interview. "For [2017], 18, 19 we don't wish to be measured against that."

"We need this time to cope with some of the remaining deflationary trends we're seeing and we also need the time to adapt to some of these very fundamental changes that we've witnessed in the consumer-goods industry," he said.

Write to Brian Blackstone at brian.blackstone@wsj.com

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