Sales: £715.1m (-4.1%)
In the battle for share of the declining bread market, Warburtons is about to pull out a big gun. A very big gun.
In one of the most unexpected pairings in marketing history, Sylvester Stallone will appear on screen next month opposite bakery boss Jonathan Warburton. After seeing £30m wiped off its sales value in the past 12 months, Warbies is fighting back with what it calls “the biggest ever marketing campaign in bakery, if not the entire food industry”.
As with the even steeper percentage declines in sales of its big rivals Kingsmill and Hovis, the 4.1% value slump has been driven in part by shoppers shunning sliced loaves. But pricing has also played a role: with volume sales down a more modest 0.6%, the supermarket price war is clearly taking its toll.
“The wrapped bread category continues to be challenging for the entire market and is the driver behind the decline,” says Warburtons marketing director Mark Simester. “However, Warburtons has seen growth in market share.”
It has also seen growth in the sandwich alternatives market it helped to establish with the launch of Sandwich Thins four years ago. “Given the challenges in wrapped bakery, we are performing well across the board,” adds Simester. “We have seen growth of 48% - or £31m - in value sales year on year in sandwich alternatives, driven largely by our sandwich thins, which have grown 62% year on year.”
And it clearly sees further growth to come, last year announcing plans to invest £20m in a new sandwich alternatives bakery in Burnley to produce Thins and wraps. It is also extending its crumpet plant in Enfield following growth in the breakfast baked goods sector.
Marketing in 2014 included a £2.5m on-pack tie-up with Paddington the Movie, and the launch of a partnership with the British Heart Foundation to promote the link between having a healthy balanced diet - including starchy carbs like bread - and maintaining a healthy heart. “As a family business, we take a long-term view and are continually investing back into our business - be that in infrastructure, NPD, marketing and commercial spend, or in our people,” adds Simester.