Sales: £496.6m (+1.3%)

Brits have munched their way through an extra 14.3 million packs (3.4%) of McVitie’s in the past year. No mean feat, considering overall sweet biscuit volumes are crumbling. How has UB done it?

Hypnotism might seem the answer, given the mesmerizing stares of the menagerie McVitie’s has enlisted for its Sweeet TV ads, first aired in early 2014. MD Jon Eggleton has another explanation.

“In 2014, we invested £12m in a brand awareness campaign, the biggest ever for UB, bringing all sweet products (excluding Go Ahead!) under the McVitie’s megabrand,” he says. “But growth hasn’t solely been driven by advertising.”

The new strategy saw the formation of a field sales force for the grocery and impulse channels and a tour of 40 wholesale depots around the UK. UB also rolled out 12-pack cases (as opposed to the standard 15), cutting c-store retailers’ outlay for stock by 20%.

Meanwhile, a 2.1% fall in average price helped keep shoppers sweet. This reflects intensifying competition (the discounters overtrade in biscuits) and greater use of deals.

“As we move through a deflationary period, pressure on prices is inevitable,” says Eggleton. “But throughout the challenging landscape, we’ve continued to grow volume.”

The launch of McVitie’s BN (strictly speaking not NPD: it was previously a brand in its own right) and variants such as Chocolate Orange Digestives has also helped power growth, worth £6.2m.

It will need to step things up to continue to grow in 2015. So far, it’s announced a new depot tour and launched McVitie’s DeliChoc, while an on-pack promotion will give away soft toys of the wide-eyed animals from the ads to the winners.

Just don’t look too closely at the owl from the BN ads. There’s something rather strange about those eyes…