Burton’s Biscuit Company has merged with Fox’s Biscuits to form a new business, Fox’s Burton’s Companies (FBC) UK.

Simon Browne, Fox’s Burton’s Companies (FBC) UK

At the same time, Maryland Cookies have been given a packaging redesign to give the packs a more modern look.

The brand is being supported with a revival of last year’s hugely successful ‘Keep it Kookie’ campaign.

Simon Browne, CEO of Fox’s Burton’s Companies (FBC) UK, tells Wholesale Manager what the merger of Burton’s Biscuit Company and Fox’s Biscuits will mean for the biscuit category.

How is the biscuit market performing and what is Maryland’s share of the cookie market?

Sweet Biscuits is in +2.6% growth, delivering +£72m RSV YoY, which is being driven by both the Cereal and Healthier biscuits categories, as well as Special and Everyday Treats, particularly in the last quarter.

The world has endured some tough times recently and we are seeing a “lipstick effect” from consumers trading up to better, more premium propositions; resulting in +£7.3m YoY growth for Special Treats. Yet people continue to seek those small moments of joy, which are becoming more and more important as we head into tougher economic times – resulting in accelerated growth of Everyday Treats, growing +£4.2m in the last 12 weeks.

The impulse channel was hit particularly hard during the pandemic as people did fewer, bigger shops. Now normality is largely restored, convenience and impulse are starting to revert to pre-Covid levels, resulting in +7% YOY growth, ahead of Total Sweet Biscuits, driven by an increase in top-up shop missions & impulse favourites such as Maryland Cookies.

When it comes to its share of the market, Maryland Cookies is the nation’s No.1 cookie brand, enjoyed by over 1 in 4 households across the UK. It dominates the cookies category with a 42% share of the branded market and growing +£3m YOY, driven by new shoppers to the brand. Maryland Cookies is worth £7m RSV in the Impulse channel, growing well ahead of the category at +13.5% YoY, benefiting from shoppers prioritising familiarity, flavour and value for money from their Everyday Treats.

How are Maryland Cookies currently being supported?

We’ve brought back the ‘Keep it Kookie’ campaign which was launched last year as part of a major brand repositioning for our £52.6m flagship brand. The launch of ‘Keep it Kookie’ was a real step change in the way we communicate Maryland Cookies. It celebrates individuality and invites people to embrace their own Kookie quirks.

This year’s evolution asks shoppers to join us in shouting about what makes us all different – because when we’re open about our ‘Kookiness’, it’s liberating. A £750,000 TV campaign kicked off the activity and is supported by a ‘Keep it Kookie’ microsite, where consumers are encouraged to ‘Share Your Kookie’ and vote for their favourite Kookie quirks submitted by the public.

Why have Maryland Cookies been given a packaging redesign at this time and what is the redesign intending to communicate?

The redesign has been created to modernise the packs and to inject a little bit of Kookie into our much-loved packs. A bolder design and bigger logo are joined by a QR code and social media hashtag to encourage shoppers to engage with our campaigns and to share what makes them unique. We’ve also hidden Kookie messages like “I’ve still got my teenage email address…Hello PrincessFairy1989” on pack to bring the ‘Keep it Kookie’ campaign to life.

What is the nutritional value of Maryland Cookies? How many calories do the cookies contain per serving, for example?

The redesign also coincided with the entire core Maryland Cookies range becoming under 100 calories per two-cookie portion.

Over the last 18 months we’ve seen changes in shoppers’ perceptions of health and consumers looking for portioned controlled treats, particularly focused around under 100 calorie products, rather than those traditionally perceived as ‘healthier’.

What will the merger of Burton’s Biscuit Company and Fox’s Biscuits mean for the biscuit category?

The two businesses are uniting to form a new biscuits company in the UK – Fox’s Burton’s Companies (FBC) UK.

This integration brings with it a significant opportunity to further build Fox’s and Burton’s iconic brands through distribution and expansion into new markets and within new category segments leveraging on the strong capabilities across both FBC businesses and the wider Ferrero ecosystem. We are excited about bringing together these two iconic businesses that share the same passion for crafting British biscuits with care, quality and innovation.

What are your plans to integrate the two companies, e.g., will the Sales and Marketing teams be merged?

As part of the integration, the FBC Leadership Team will be undertaking a strategic review for the new business. Until this is completed, Fox’s and Burton’s businesses will continue to operate separately.

How will HFSS impact the biscuit category?

Biscuits typically feature in most shoppers’ habitual weekly shops, so whilst HFSS will undoubtedly have an impact on impulse sales, we expect footfall down the main aisle will remain largely unaffected.

When it comes to the convenience channel, insight shows that the majority of biscuits are already purchased from the aisle, with less opportunities for promotional space away from the main fixture than larger multiple retailers. Visits to convenience stores are also predominantly mission-based, with shoppers seeking particular products to fulfil their needs and visiting most of the aisles to achieve this. As a nation of biscuit lovers, and with taste and value remaining the primary purchase drivers for the category, we know that biscuits will remain a staple in shoppers’ baskets.

What advice do you have for wholesalers to help them capitalise on the biscuits opportunity?

During these uncertain times, our advice would be to stock well-known brands, prioritising familiarity, flavour and value for money – qualities synonymous with our brands. We are lucky to have some of the nation’s best-loved, iconic biscuit brands in our portfolio, and they are benefiting from shoppers’ and consumers’ increasing desire to give themselves small moments of joy.

Wholesalers should also ensure they offer biscuit flavours and formats that cover multiple consumption occasions and shopper needs. From our core range of 10g cookies (£32.7m +1.3%) which are ideal as an everyday treat for all the family, to our Maryland Minis (£15.5m +27.8% YoY) which are perfect for permissible kids snacking and lunchbox occasions, and our Big & Chunky Cookies for the treatier evening and weekend occasions, there is a Maryland Cookie for every consumer!

The market for price-marked packs remains hugely important and we expect more shoppers to look to PMPs as reassurance of value. We continue to offer high quality biscuits at reasonable prices and support the sector with our best selling products available in PMP format.

 

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