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Nexcen outlines new strategy for 2009

NEW YORK NexCen Brands Inc., the troubled parent of snack brands MaggieMoo’s, Marble Slab, Pretzel Time, Pretzelmaker and Great American Cookies, said it would explore a series of strategic initiatives to help reverse the company’s poor performance in recent years.

In a statement this week by Kenneth J. Hall, NexCen’s chief executive, Nexcen said it has developed a four-pronged business strategy for 2009 including: the integration of Pretzel Time and Pretzelmaker; the reduction of product offerings at MaggieMoo’s to help increase store-level profitability; and a rebranding and remodeling program for Marble Slab and Great American Cookies.

The combination of Pretzel Time and Pretzelmaker would create the second-largest pretzel brand in the United States, in terms of market share, the company said. Nexcen did not provide specifics on what a brand combination would entail or if there would be a brand name change.

The company also is planning to ramp up the visibility of NexCen “University” its centralized training, research, development and operations center in Norcross, Ga., in order to attract more potential franchisees, it said.

In 2008, NexCen opened 97 franchised quick-service restaurants and increased its foothold in such international markets as Kuwait, Lebanon, Bahrain, Guam and Vietnam.

It also started an online cookie cake ordering program at Great American Cookies and introduced new packaging for MaggieMoo’s retail products. Maggie Moo’s and Marble Slab are ice cream concepts.

On the retail side of its business, NexCen completed the sale of its Waverly and Bill Blass retail brands, which helped reduce the company’s debt by about $33.4 million, or 19 percent. Furthermore, the company said it overhauled its executive leadership and management structure and also upgraded its corporate governance rules. Through 2008, the company has not filed financial results as it works to restructure its debt and seek additional capital for operations. The company said this week that results would be filed by March 31.

In addition to its foodservice brands, NexCen also franchises such retail concepts as Athlete’s Foot and Shoebox New York.

Contact Elissa Elan at [email protected].

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