Louise Reynard is Commercial Controller, Wholesale at St Pierre Groupe. Reynard joined the business five years ago and has been central to the company’s phenomenal growth. Responsible for the Wholesale channel, she works across all three St Pierre Groupe brands – St Pierre, Baker Street and Paul Hollywood.
What are the different sub-sectors within the bread market, e.g. white and wholemeal, and which have the biggest market share?
Bread is a British staple and the past two years have transformed the category. Whilst sales look to be ‘returning to normal’, with bread sales down by five per cent versus last year, the nation still champions the humble loaf and sales are still up five per cent when compared to two years ago.
White bread is still, by far, the biggest sub-sector and even that is in decline. It’s growth areas and the sub-sectors bucking the trend that are always the ones worth watching, which makes speciality breads such as Rye, Seeded and Sourdough, the areas to keep an eye on.
Which bread sub-sectors are driving market growth?
Rolls and Baguettes is the sub-sector adding most value to the category and of course, that’s where we do the bulk of our business. As a category, Rolls is up 3.5 per cent in the last year and ten times that in the past two years.
Wholesalers are catering to an audience more aware than ever of product quality and versatility. Usage of products has shifted dramatically and so Rolls – which can easily be used for any meal occasion – are in growth. For St Pierre, this growth is driven by offering a premium option in retail or on menus and for Baker Street, the proposition is the reliable bakery brand – a quality product with extended shelf-life, which really benefits everyone.
Will the at-home socialisation trend be key in driving bakery market growth?
The past two years have taught consumers how to make the most of at-home events and this year will be about ‘levelling up’ – taking hosting to new levels. There are myriad reasons why the at-home socialisation trend will remain key. Beyond consumers having different comfort levels when it comes to ‘returning to normal’ there are new financial factors at play. The housing market is set to record its strongest year since 2007 – that means millions of consumers are either saving money after a house move, have new homes in which to entertain guests, or both. Add to that a cost of living crisis, whereby people will appreciate the affordable luxuries more than ever before and you have a very positive outlook for another trend borne of the pandemic.
Summer socialising in the U.K. is all about the BBQ, too – and what’s a barbecue without the buns? All St Pierre Groupe products benefit from extended life and that’s key for wholesalers and food service operators alike.
If the great British weather serves up an unexpected scorcher, retailers sell out of products and have to watch sales walk out the door. If, on the other hand, a beauty of a bank holiday is predicted but lets us down, retailers find themselves with shelves full of stock that’s going to go to waste. The same principle applies in food service, too – especially when they’re thawing to serve. Our ambient, pre-sliced range of burger buns and hot dog rolls offers a solution to a very real challenge for our customers.
Is minimising food waste important to shoppers?
Food waste is, as mentioned, a very real challenge for our customers but it’s a growing concern for consumers, too. In fact, in a study from WRAP in 2020, 87 per cent of respondents agreed that food waste is an important national issue and more than 90 per cent said that everyone has a responsibility to minimise the food they throw away. The same study shows that most food is thrown away because it’s not used in time – around 1.9 million tonnes or £5.7 billion.
Mintel’s September 2020 bread report backs this study up, with particular reference to bread; 44 per cent who buy and eat bread agreed it is more important for packaging to keep bread fresh than it is for it to be environmentally friendly. I think today’s shoppers are more aware of the need to strike a balance and they understand that reducing food waste is one way to help play our part in the fight against climate change.
What are your best-selling products?
Across both the Baker Street and St Pierre brands, our best-selling products are Burger Buns and Hot Dog Rolls. That’s not necessarily because the UK has started eating burgers for every meal, but because we’ve become more adventurous with our menus and have embraced products that allow for versatility. St Pierre Groupe products cater to the need to range a ‘good, better, best’ option. St Pierre is perfect for elevating everyday meals, driving margin for wholesalers and food service operators. Baker Street offers a quality product with all the benefits of extended life, so it’s perfect for the ‘good’ or ‘better’ merchandising.
How is your brand performing in the category?
Our performance in wholesale is strong – St Pierre is up 71 per cent year on year and Baker Street is also in growth – up 7 per cent on 2021. In the current climate, that growth is no mean feat and part of our success is in the way we work with the wholesale channel. Our approach to everything is collaborative. We are always exploring new ways to merchandise the brands in a way that works best for our wholesale customers. We liaise with our key customers on NPD, pack formats and serving suggestions to make sure we’re always delivering the most relevant products in the most effective way.
What NPD do you have coming up?
St Pierre’s Brioche Bagel launched in April this year and we have recently launched a four-pack of our best-selling Brioche Burger Buns. That means for retailers buying through wholesale, they have a greater selection of options to cater to the demands of their own customers. It’s another great example of how we’re taking feedback from customers and delivering to meet their needs.
What marketing support do you have for your products this year?
Our commercial team is working closely with the marketing team to ensure that we are supporting the brands at the right time in the right channels. This year, we’re able to do in-person events again, so that’s exciting for all of us. We have a series of trade and consumer shows in the pipeline to support summer and each of our brands has a dedicated marketing support plan to help bolster brand awareness and of course, maximise sales.
How do you work with wholesalers to help them grow sales?
Any wholesaler we work with is considered a partner of the business. Yes, we’re a supplier, but we go beyond the usual supplier-customer relationship. We invest in data and research so that we can demonstrate a greater understanding of the sector and customer base. That insight means we can deliver proposals that are tailored to our wholesale partners and demonstrate very quickly how we can help to drive margin.
*Unless otherwise stated, all references are L52 weeks Nielsen Value Sales and SalesOut (Shipment data) to March 12th 2022