Arla plans to more than double the size of its Anchor brand to £250m by 2017 - using its newly relaunched Anchor Cheddar to spearhead growth, The Grocer can reveal.

The company relaunched Anchor Cheddar in mature and extra mature variants in April after a four-year absence from shelves.

It is now worth around £5m in sales and in an exclusive interview with The Grocer, CEO Peter Lauritzen said the Cheddar’s reintroduction to UK retail “couldn’t have gone better.”

Arla was now targeting £50m sales for the cheese in 2014 and £100m by 2017, the company said. Factoring in the anticipated growth of Anchor butters and spreads, currently worth £106.4m, according to Nielsen (MAT 12 October 2012), pastry - launched in October - and cream, it aims to turn Anchor into a £250m brand by 2017.

Arla had focused on securing distribution and penetration in 2013 and would work on extending the Anchor Cheddar range and improving consumer loyalty in 2014, Lauritzen said.

In the New Year, Anchor Cheddar will be extended into grated and sliced variants and a lighter block, which launched into Waitrose in July, will be rolled out to other retailers.

The plans form part of Arla’s ‘cheese strategy’ for 2014-17, which will also see Arla export Anchor to other European countries. The strategy “very much centres on brands and Anchor” but would also include own-label cheese, Lauritzen said.

Currently, Arla UK exports about 1,000 tonnes of cheese a year but it planned to use its global supply network to significantly increase this, said Matt Walker, senior director marketing. “We aim to grow our export portfolio of quality British cheeses to over 8,000 tonnes by 2017.”