Kervan Gida has grown to become Turkey’s largest soft candy producer and exporter, with offices in the UK, USA, Germany and Russia.
Having achieved year-on-year growth since it was established in 2015, 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.
Stuart Johnston, UK Managing Director, tells Wholesale Manager about the company’s NPD and marketing activity and about how the vision for Bebeto is to become one of the world’s top five sugar confectionery brands by 2023.
What does your role as Managing Director involve on a day-to-day basis?
I work closely with my team here in the UK and the teams based in Turkey, to ensure that our business strategy is kept on track. Day to day my role is very simple. I conduct each aspect of the UK business, aiding the Marketing, Research and Development and Sales teams, helping us to innovate and grow.
What are the key products in your range that wholesalers should be stocking?
We’ve grown to become the market leaders of licorice in the wholesale sector. Last year we released a line of vegan approved licorice under our Bebeto brand, which consists of 200g Licorice and 70g Sour Spaghetti. We reengineered existing lines with new recipes to achieve vegan approved certification from the Vegetarian Society.
The vegan market is expected to rise to £1.1bn by 2023*, so it’s important for wholesalers to ensure they have an inclusive confectionery range that is accessible to a wide audience. Like all our products, they’re 100% Halal certified. We’ve already received excellent uptake and feedback on this range, so if wholesalers aren’t stocking them already, they should be.
We’re delighted to announce the launch of our new 150g and 190g gummy range. We’ve taken our best-selling gummy shapes and flavours and we’ve mixed, matched, and repackaged them in a bigger bag format. This range includes Fizzy Watermelons, Strawberries, Big Mix and Big Fizzy Mix, available in both price-marked and non-price marked packs. This range is competitively priced and ideal for convenience retailers looking for products in share bag formats.
*Source: Mintel Veganuary Report 10.01.2019.
What is the value of the UK sugar confectionery market?
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.
*Source: Euromonitor International: Market Research Provider.
What trends are driving the market?
As environmental concerns grow amongst consumers and retailers, brands are becoming increasingly aware of their carbon footprints. Here at Kervan Gida, we’re no different. We’re currently looking at innovative ways to improve our supply chain and reduce our plastic packaging.
Notably, the impact of Covid-19 has encouraged consumers to spend more time at home, enjoying ‘big nights in’ and snacking more frequently. Nearly half of UK consumers say they are snacking more at home during office closures. This trend is driving brands to offer a range of pack size options, product variety and competitive pricing. There continues to be a need for share-size products. Resealable packaging is more important than ever. We’re due to release some very exciting family sized NDP in the coming months, so watch this space.
What share does Kervan Gida have of the sugar confectionery market?
Kervan Gida UK has a humble but growing share of the UK sugar confectionery market. We have achieved year-on-year growth for the past five years and we continue into 2021 with the same ambition to deliver healthy sales that exceed our forecasts.
Has the Covid-19 pandemic impacted Kervan Gida’s business and the sugar confectionery category?
The initial months of 2020 were uncertain and driven by unpredictable consumer behaviour. When things began to settle, the 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.
As a family-owned business teamwork and safety are a priority to Kervan Gida. We understand the need to work together for a common cause and to be flexible where required. During the pandemic the whole company came together to support one another. I am are extremely proud of the continued dedication shown by our teams during this difficult time.
*Source: Euromonitor Intonational: Market Research Provider
How has the company’s portfolio of brands evolved in recent years?
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 advice can you provide for wholesalers to maximise sales?
Adopting recommendations on range is key. It’s important to keep displays fresh and stock a selection of our best-selling lines that complement one another. This provides the consumer with choice, helping to maximise sales.
We like 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 has provided us with the opportunity to discuss our products and promotional plans for the year ahead.
How are your brands currently performing?
Our UK business has grown by 25% over the past year, and Kervan Gida has reached sales of over €100m worldwide. In 2021 we have the same ambition to deliver healthy sales that exceed our forecasts. This year we will focus on broadening our Bebeto product range and our distribution channels.
We’re extremely confident in our long-term growth strategy. In December 2020, we announced that we had become a public company, listed on the Turkish Stock Exchange. The next few years are set to be pivotal for Kervan Gida; our vision is to drive Bebeto to become one of the top five sugar confectionery brands worldwide by 2023.
What brand activity do you have planned?
We have hit the ground running this year when it comes to NPD, by re-introducing our new vegan approved licorice lines and launching our 150g and 190g gummy range. We also have an innovative alternative to traditional pick and mix, and some incredibly fun and engaging seasonal products yet to come.
2021 is planned to be a big year for Bebeto with lots of new lines and marketing activity on the horizon. 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.