Lauren Meadows is Brand Manager for St Pierre UK, having taken on the role in October 2020. Prior to joining St Pierre Groupe, Meadows held a range of roles – both retailer and supplier side – covering planning and shopper activation for household names including Iceland, Kellogg’s and Co-Op Food.

Can you tell us a little of the history of your brand?

St Pierre is an authentic European bakery brand. We specialise in brioche, made to a French recipe, in France and branded to deliver a taste of Paris to consumers, no matter where they are in the world. The brand started as a ‘white’ label but has been through something of an evolution over the past decade. Now, St Pierre is known for the quality of its products and its distinctive orange shine and as such it is the number one brioche brand in the UK and the USA.

How has the bakery category been performing over the last year?

Bakery is such a fast-paced category – it’s one of the reasons I so enjoy what I do; I’m definitely kept on my toes! ‘Bread’ as a category is actually down five per cent which means, overall, the bakery category is in decline. That said, there are some areas of growth that retailers are understandably watching with interest. Morning Goods is one of them, up three per cent in the last 52 weeks – and perhaps most importantly for St Pierre, Rolls is the second – up six per cent. Whilst six per cent doesn’t sound like it will set the world alight, when you consider the value of the bakery category is £2.9bn, that six per cent looks a lot more significant.

And how has your brand been performing?

With sales now over £35 million1 and growth of 193 per cent in the last two years, St Pierre is the fastest growing bakery brand in the UK with our sights set on breaking in to the Top 10 biggest UK bakery brands. Three St Pierre products alone have added £8 million to the Rolls category in the last year, which is more than some of the biggest names in bakery. We have maximised consumer trends, worked collaboratively with retailers and listened to our customers in every setting and our approach in doing so has well and truly put us on the map. It’s a brilliant time to be working with St Pierre – we really do have the best quality products and we’re testing and learning all the time. I’m obviously biased, but we have an incredible opportunity to take the St Pierre brand to the next level and I am really excited to play a part in that.

What are the biggest trends in the bakery market?

Premiumisation is a trend that emerged during the pandemic and shows no sign of slowing down. Shoppers have become accustomed to quality food at home and even in the midst of a cost of living crisis they are looking for ways to elevate their everyday. The reality is, the luxury of dining out and/or travelling will still be out of reach for many – so upgrading certain elements of staple menu items is an affordable luxury. I believe premiumisation and offering the choice is vital in any category but it’s particularly important in bakery. If you look at other categories – like coffee – they go beyond the ‘good, better, best’ options because it’s such a popular fixture. The same is true of bakery and as a brand, we are working with retailers to offer improved choice.

That’s why we’ve invested in different pack formats. Our best-selling product is our six pack of Brioche Burger Buns, but we’ve just launched a four-count to let customers in every channel enjoy an upgraded product.

Are sandwich alternatives such as bagels, pittas and wrapped rolls growing in popularity? How much market share do they have?

The bagels sector has been experiencing phenomenal growth. Over the past two years, it’s up 23 per cent and whilst the growth is slowing in more recent times, it’s still a huge uplift, leading the way as the biggest sub-category within morning goods and worth £144 million.

As a brand, St Pierre is up 80 per cent on last year and that’s testament to the growth in popularity of brioche. That’s why it made perfect sense to us, to develop a product that caters to the popularity of two growing markets. We launched our Brioche Bagel in April this year and we’re excited to see how customers find new ways to work with our versatile products.

The Monterey Jack’s chain in Scotland have already launched a Bagel Burger using our product and heralded the new menu item with a dedicated TV advertising campaign. We’ve taken the quality brioche for which we’re known and applied it to a bakery staple and it’s working.

How is the sweet bakery sector performing? Is it in growth and gaining market share?

The short answer is yes. Sweet bakery is on the up, but there are sectors within the category that are outstanding. Croissants and pains au chocolat are all in double-digit growth and we are looking to maximise that growth with our latest reformulation.

At St Pierre, we are constantly reviewing product quality – it’s what our brand is known for. As part of that process, we recently reviewed the recipe for both our multipack Croissants and Pains au Chocolat and decided to make a few changes, simply to give us the best-tasting product. A happy by-product of doing so is that both products are now suitable for vegans. That works to make the brand accessible to an even larger audience and research shows that one in three vegan shoppers are looking for a sweet treat. Now, that audience can enjoy St Pierre.

Are St Pierre Burger Buns and Hot Dog Rolls in growth?

Our core range of products are our Brioche Burger Buns, Seeded Brioche Burger Buns, Brioche Hot Dog Rolls and Brioche Baguettes. In the last year, this group of products is up 115 per cent. Driving trial of these core range products is key for us because we know, once customers try St Pierre – whether they are consumers, or food service operators – they will keep coming back. That’s especially important in the wholesale setting because popular, quality brands drive profits for retailers and food service outlets. We work alongside wholesalers to develop merchandising solutions that really demonstrate the versatility of our products. From marketing materials, to in-store promotions and presentation with branded shippers, we are delivering stand out and engaging shoppers in a branded experience as soon as they see us.

Our approach is different, and it works because when we win, our wholesalers win, too. One example is we’ve been working on bespoke product sample boxes, rewarding top wholesale customers at no risk or cost to them to experience the brand, and at the same time introducing new shoppers to St Pierre.

How is St Pierre building consumer awareness and loyalty?

One of the best things about working with St Pierre Groupe is the freedom to try new things. As a business, we’re not afraid to run test and learn projects – that’s linked to the culture and entrepreneurial background of St Pierre Groupe, but it means that as a marketing team, we are learning all the time.

We are increasing consumer-facing activity in every channel this year, as the brand grows. From in-store merchandising to out-of-home advertising, restaurant collaborations, TV advertising, social media campaigns and everything in between, we have been building activity from April onwards to really put the brand at the heart of summer. A lot of our activity is kickstarted with National Brioche Day on May 14th and we’ve run a brilliant piece of research to understand the British perception of Paris, revealing how much ‘French’ is in our day-to-day lives. It’s given us a brilliant view of knowledge around French food and drink, but also new ideas around how to capture the hearts and minds of consumers, using our authentic product and stand-out French branding.

BBQ season, given our core range, is a key time for the business so all of our activity is designed to deliver an experience that makes people pick St Pierre in the first place. That approach has reduced the ‘seasonality’ of the brand, too. Because we’re inspiring customers to use our products with different meal occasions and delivering a consistently top-quality product, we keep customers coming back, regardless of the time of year.

*Unless otherwise stated, all references are Nielsen to March 12th 2022.

 

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