Dairy Milk’s powering ahead, and Cadbury confectionery chief Simon Baldry thinks there’s loads more potential to be tapped in the company’s stable of brands, as he tells Sean McAllister

You can’t help but feel slightly disappointed by your first visit to Cadbury Trebor Bassett’s HQ in Maple Cross. There’s no welcoming committee of Oompa-Loompas,nor is there a river of chocolate.
And the supremo at the confectionery giant, Simon Baldry, doesn’t dress in a top hat - for Willy Wonka-style chocolate magic you need to go up the M40 to the Cadbury World family attraction.
But Baldry does share one similarity with the fictional confectioner. He’s passionate about confectionery.
And now, after a year and a half as managing director of Cadbury Schweppes’ UK confectionery businesses with a particular emphasis on Cadbury Trebor Bassett, he’s flinging open the company’s door to reveal his plans to grow core brands like Dairy Milk.
Baldry spent the previous 10 years in Russia and Poland, acquiring the skills for the current job in one of the most challenging retail environments in the world.
He originally went out to Russia with Mars in 1993. “It was a difficult country to operate and live in,” he says frankly. “Within a month I was selling chocolate in Siberia at temperatures below minus 30 degrees.”
Two years into his Russian experience, Cadbury poached him from Mars - he had originally begun his career with Cadbury Schweppes as a graduate - to establish its confectionery business in the country.
Then Cadbury jetted him to Poland in 2000 to re-establish the Wedel brand as the number one confectionery brand in its native country.
An iconic brand in Poland, Wedel was acquired by Cadbury from PepsiCo in 1999 and merged with its Polish operation to form Cadbury Wedel. Baldry’s remit was to bring the 150-year-old brand back to glory in the face of competition from Nestlé, Kraft and Mars. Wedel regained its top spot in 2001, the same year it celebrated its 150th anniversary.
Baldry comments: “I had to turn the business around in Poland and now I look back and see enormous change. I set it up to help it continue to grow.”
But he says it is easier to do a turnaround job than fulfil his current assignment in the UK.
Cadbury’s UK confectionery business is a very different proposition. Cadbury Trebor Bassett was clear market leader when Baldry took the helm.
And preparations were virtually complete for turning its flagship Dairy Milk brand into Britain’s favourite countline by introducing new varieties - such as Mint Chips and the recently launched Wafer and Orange Chips - and consolidating some brands, including Wispa and Caramel, under the umbrella branding.
But although the masterbranding exercise has boosted sales of Dairy Milk by 24%, Baldry believes there are still opportunities to grow the brand further ahead of its 100th anniversary next year.
“Standing still will not get growth. So let’s set a new challenge. The centenary is another opportunity to grow the brand and the market.”
Part of that plan is to pump an additional £10m into marketing that will see new product development and a major on-pack promotion in the first quarter of 2005.
He sees further opportunities elsewhere. “We have a great portfolio of brands but we’re not using them all properly. Dairy Milk is just one element, we also have Creme Egg, Flake and Roses.”
Cadbury has already been adding value to some of its brands this year by throwing Roses into the premium arena with a Luxury Collection of milk, white and dark chocolates and taking Flake down a new avenue with a boxed bite-sized offering called Flake Moments. It brought new consumers to its Bassett’s Allsorts brand by bringing out Fruit Allsorts - the Maynards brand can expect similar treatment next year.
Masterbrands, says Baldry, will create a sustainable platform for his business and grow the category in the long term. He adds: “We can launch a new brand tomorrow and it can be gone in six months.”
It’s clear Baldry enjoys the challenge to continue to grow the confectionery business.
The 42-year-old is a proven competitor - he has competed on the international stage in both the modern pentathalon and fencing - and he says he gets the same buzz from being responsible for Cadbury Trebor Bassett as he does competing internationally.
However, Baldry believes in looking at the bigger picture. He sees it as not only his responsibility to grow the CTB brands.
As market leader, he says his customers look to his company to grow the whole category. “Markets grow when leaders lead,” is Baldry’s mantra. “So we must look outwardly and not inwardly at Nestlé Rowntree and Masterfoods and just play a market share game.”
He believes the category should be grown “by driving value-adding innovation and extending the boundaries of confectionery into other use-occasions dominated by other categories”.
He cites Cadbury Snaps, which were launched in September as an example. A 140g box of the wafer thin chocolates costs a premium price of £1.75 but also taps into the bagged snacks category by offering a solution to a peckish need state.
Despite the obvious importance of the brands themelves, Baldry says his staff are most important. “People make the difference. You can have great brands but people bring them to life,” he says.
“I believe in stretching the imagination and belief in what we can do and giving people the freedom to do that. I don’t want people to feel unable to converse.”
And the open-plan offices at Maple Cross help him to achieve this aim. They have a relaxed feel and Baldry is easily approachable and not hidden away in an office or behind a wall of dividers.
Baldry is a family man. A Russian speaker - he’s reluctant to say he’s fluent to avoid ridicule from his Russian wife - and with two sons, he strongly believes in traditional values of the table being the centre of the family rather than the TV.
As for his longer term ambitions, he has an interesting slant on setting goals: “It’s better being able to say ‘this is what we set out to achieve and we are substantially down that road’. Because if you are there already you’ve set the wrong targets.”
Perhaps Johnny Depp should step aside and let Baldry take lead role in the remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.