"The right property combined with a yummy cake is a winning formula,” says Sarah Day, marketing controller of Greencore cakes and desserts.
Producing a staggering 45 million cakes and desserts a year, across nearly 300 different lines, Greencore still takes the time to hand-decorate each of its celebration cakes for that extra special personal touch.
The bakery was acquired by The Greencore Group from Hazlewood Foods in 2001 and around ten per cent of its products are licensed, featuring a number of kids properties with a couple of adult brands recently joining the mix.
Day explains: “Licensed cakes have always been an important part of our business. More recently we entered the chilled dessert category with both Weight Watchers and Terry’s Chocolate Orange Puddings.”
The licensed products help to bring variation and balance to the firm’s product portfolio. Day continues: “As a predominately private label supplier, licences bring a fast demand and brand scale to our business in a way that would take years to replicate if building a brand from scratch.
“Above all our licenses and licensors are fun to work with; they bring a smile to the faces of our colleagues and most importantly to the birthday cake recipient.”
Licences have traditionally fared well in the bakery sector, but Day thinks it is important to ensure the property is integrated with the product: “It is important to be selective; the most successful food and drink licences integrate the brand into the product design, rather than simply ‘badging’ it. The right licence can add value, credibility and appeal to your food range. Get it wrong, and it can appear contrived and insincere.”
Despite having a strong position in the market, the company hasn’t been unaffected by the economic climate over the past year. Price decreases and an increase in promotional activity have taken some value out of the celebration cake category, so the market has been slightly down, but recent TNS figures have shown a move back into growth.
Day continues: “Whilst trading conditions remain challenging for everyone, we all still have birthdays and generally consumers do not comprise on the all important cake purchase, so demand is pretty constant.
“We’ve also benefited in our dessert category as people choose to stay at home rather than dine out. Our good mix of retail customers and product portfolio has meant we have been well placed to maximise opportunities.”
Going forward, Greencore is looking to focus on driving the Weight Watchers chilled puddings as Day and the team see a gap for healthier chilled desserts and products that deliver indulgence without sacrifice.
The firm will also continue to refresh and re-launch new variants of all its licences and there is a lot in the development pipeline.
Continually building on what is already a strong portfolio, Greencore has four new deals in the pipeline, with Forever Friends launching in August and a collaboration with BBC Worldwide bringing a Charlie and Lola cake to the shelves in autumn 2009.
Day says: “We’ve also picked up a fab new pre-school licence and an exciting movie, both of which will be announced in the summer.”
Marketing for the products is focussed mainly at the point of purchase, through attractive products, promotions, packaging and merchandising. Day explains: “With birthday cakes, an eye-catching design is everything, so we work hard to make sure we always have the best cakes on the shelves.”
In the licensed section, the firm also relies on licensors’ own marketing campaigns to drive brand awareness and create demand for the products.
Greencore Cakes and Desserts forms part of Greencore Group plc, one of the UK largest convenience foods businesses. Greencore is a major producer of private label and licensed foods, ranging from sandwiches and sushi to ready meals, mineral water and cooking sauce.