The UK’s biggest snacks company outsold the country’s biggest bread maker for the first time last year, The Grocer’s Britain’s Biggest Brands survey has revealed.
Walkers grew 7.6%, ousting Warburtons from the position of Britain’s second biggest grocery brand behind Coca-Cola.
The boost to Walkers added £51.4m to the company’s top line, taking its sales to £724.4m for the year, while Warburtons’ 4.4% growth increased its brand value by £29.8m to £703.6m [Nielsen 52 w/e 29 December 2012].
“In what has been a competitive year in our category, we have delivered growth across the Walkers portfolio,” said Walkers marketing director Peter Charles.
In absolute terms, Walkers’ growth was the third-biggest in grocery last year, after McCain frozen potatoes and Innocent
Walkers’ growth was driven by the 2012 launches of Deep Ridged and Baked Stars, which racked up £26.2m and £13.2m respectively. Walkers Sensations also had a strong year, with sales up 29.4%, worth £19.2m to the brand.
However, the core Walkers brand actually lost £9.6m in value last year, a decline of 2%, on volumes down 10.2%. Sub-brands Walkers Baked, Lights and Max also suffered declines.
Brand owner PepsiCo, which increased its spend on Walkers advertising by 27% last year [Nielsen], is hoping to return the core brand to growth by pushing the British provenance of its ingredients following a revamp in January.
The move would be supported by the brand’s “biggest ever” TV, digital and in-store campaign, it claimed.
Warburtons, which last week rebranded its Pitta Chips range as Warburtons Escapes, also upped its ad spend. But it was hampered by a disastrous wheat crop, which sent costs soaring, and significant management upheaval with the resignation of its MD and marketing director.
The only consolation was that a steady stream of NPD enabled it to grow ahead of rivals Kingsmill and Hovis.
Movers and shakers
In absolute terms, Walkers’ growth was the third-biggest in grocery last year, after McCain frozen potatoes’ £51.6m (up 29.1%) and Innocent’s £56.9m (up 36.3%). Coke inched up 0.8%, adding £9.7m to its coffers.
The growth of McCain was primarily driven by the launch of microwaveable jacket potatoes. Innocent has its push into fruit juices backed up with fierce price promotions to thank for its performance.
Partly as a result of Innocent’s growth, Walkers’ PepsiCo bedfellow Tropicana was grocery’s biggest loser of 2012. The brand haemorrhaged £30.3m as sales slumped 10% and volumes fell 14.3%.
The list of entries can be found below. You can read notes on our methodology here.