Kervan Gida is a family-owned business with 25 years’ experience in the confectionery manufacturing sector. Owner of soft candy brands Bebeto and Dexters, Kervan Gida has grown to become Turkey’s largest soft candy producer and exporter, with offices in the UK, USA, Germany and Russia.

Kervan Gida began producing chewing gum under the Kelo?lan brand in 1995, expanding to create Bebeto three years later. In 2015 the UK office was established, helping to secure its global position in the sugar confectionery market. Believing in the power of localisation in respective markets, Kervan Gida bought UK-based Dexters in 2017.

Kervan Gida now employs more than 2,000 team members and has achieved sales over €100m, supplying goods to 90 countries worldwide. Kervan Gida’s mission is to produce and manage its resources in a way that will create value for shareholders, whilst strengthening its knowledge and sector experience to provide its suppliers, customers and most importantly its consumers, with brands and products they adore.

Kervan Gida’s overarching vision is to drive Bebeto to become one of the top five Sugar Confectionery brands worldwide by 2023. The UK office has a pivotal role to play in the expected growth of Kervan Gida.

Having achieved year-on-year growth since it was established, the UK office now distributes the Bebeto and Dexters brands to more than 12,000 retailers across the UK. It has established itself as one of the leading suppliers of sweets across the country and has ambitious plans to maintain this position.

Gabriella Egleton joined Kervan Gida in August 2020 as the UK Brand Marketing Manager. Gabriella is responsible for product development and brand marketing. With ambitious strategic plans, Gabriella’s focus is to drive the Bebeto and Dexters brands to reach wider markets and additional retailers, contributing to Kervan Gida’s overarching vision. Here Gabriella spoke to Wholesale Manager.

Can you tell us some of the history of the company?

We’re a family-owned Turkish business that has been operating for over 25 years. In the early years, we were focused on manufactured chewing gum until we expanded into soft candy and our Bebeto brand was born. In 2015, we opened our first UK office in Chichester, West Sussex. This move has helped us to secure a global position in the sugar confectionery market. In 2017 we acquired the British brand Dexters. We have been lovingly developing and growing both brands in the UK ever since.

We now have two UK warehouse facilities at our disposal, one onsite in Chichester and the other in Liverpool. We currently import products manufactured by our factories in Istanbul and Izmir both in Turkey. As a group, Kervan Gida has made substantial investments in both factories over the past few years. Many of these improvements have been made to supply the demand for products to the UK.

What are the biggest brands you have in your portfolio?

We are proud owners of soft candy brands Bebeto and Dexters. Established in 1998, our delicious Bebeto soft candy sweets are packed full of fun flavours and tempting tastes for the whole family. Including licorice, gummy, marshmallow and bubble gum lines, Bebeto offers a wide variety of products. From our vegan 200g Banana Raspberry Dyna Splitz licorice to 400g Fizzy Party Mix tubs, we have something for every consumer and every retailer. Our portfolio includes a range of 50p and £1 price marked goods, as well as special seasonal products for Christmas, Halloween and Ramadan. Manufactured in Turkey and stocked in over 90 countries worldwide, we have ambitious growth plans for Bebeto.

Dexters is a leading wholesale confectionery specialist for the convenience sector. Now structured with a competitive retail format, all products are 100% Halal certified and manufactured in Kervan Gida’s Turkish manufacturing facilities. Our Dexters soft candy includes licorice, gummy and bubble gum lines. Popular favourites include our range of Dyna Stix and Tiger Tongue licorice in a variety of fruit, sour and fizzy flavours. Our portfolio also includes a range of £1 priced licorice and our popular ‘39p or 3 for £1’ range.

Is the sugar confectionery market in growth? What is driving the growth?

During 2020, total sugar confectionery in the UK grew 4% in terms of value to £1.8billion, while volumes rose by 3% to 189.000 tonnes* This growth was largely driven by challenger brands and the rise in consumption of sharing bags. Although this growth is positive, sugar confectionery brands need to remain vigilant and mindful of the shift in consumer health-consciousness. The government is also set to implement strict regulations by April 2022 on how high-sugar content foods are advertised and sold in the UK, including in-store promotions. Given these pressures, more than ever, it is crucial that brands within our sector are innovating and diversifying.

*Source: Euromonitor International: Market Research Provider

Has Covid-19 affected the market performance?

The initial months of 2020 were uncertain and driven by unpredictable consumer behaviour. When things began to settle, the sugar confectionery market benefited from a slight boom. Consumers opted for small indulgences. Impulse purchases rose as consumers purchased treats to enjoy whilst being confined at home. Towards the end of 2020 sales slowed again, but thankfully challenger brands such as Bebeto and Dexters were able to adapt and thrive.

How can wholesalers maximise sales of your products?

Adopting our recommendations on range is key. Stocking a selection of our best-selling lines that compliment one another and provide the consumer with choice, is the best way to help maximise sales.

How do you work with wholesalers to improve sales?

We love to keep connected and offer as much knowledge to wholesalers about our brands as possible. We provide regular category updates and keep all our customers informed on our planned NPD. We use our industry knowledge and insights to inform them on what to stock and when. We regularly deploy our sales team into depots who create impactful merchandising through planograms and promotional displays.

Given the current difficulties with holding events, we’ve recently attended several virtual wholesale conferences. This gave us the opportunity to discuss our products and promotional plans for the year ahead.

What marketing support do you have planned for your range?

We have a promotional calendar for leading products which is rolled out across participating wholesalers during key trading periods. We are also investing heavily in our website and social media activity this year to raise brand awareness and increase consumer demand.

Is there any NPD on the horizon?

We have plenty of NPD planned for 2021. This includes a new range of gummy sweets, an innovative alternative to traditional pick and mix, and some incredibly fun and engaging seasonal products. 2021 is planned to be a big year for Bebeto with lots of new lines and marketing activity on the horizon.

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