PepsiCo has promoted Tropicana marketing boss Peter Charles to the position of Walkers marketing director.
He takes over from Miranda Sambles who left the company at the end of last year to become marketing director at Mars Petcare.
Before Tropicana, Charles worked as marketing manager for Doritos, giving him an insider’s view on how the crisp market has evolved.
“The trends of three or four years ago have continued to build. People are becoming savvier about health and provenance has gone from an emergent to an established trend,” he said.
He joins Walkers during a period of strong growth. This year, the success of new launches such as Deep Ridged and Baked Stars has helped Walkers overtake Warburtons to become the second-biggest brand behind Coca-Cola in The Grocer’s Britain’s Biggest Brands rankings.
In his new role, one of his main priorities will be to ensure the momentum is maintained. “We have a great success story in Deep Ridged and we want to continue to build it into a sustained launch,” he said.
Another key priority for Charles will be to turn around the poor performance of Walkers’ core range, which has suffered a 2% drop in value sales and a 10.2% slump in volume [Nielsen 52 w/e 29 December].
In January, Walkers revamped the packaging for the range and introducing British-sourced ingredients to flavour the crisps, such as Cheddar from Somerset and sour cream from Dorset.
The revamp, supported by a new ad campaign with Gary Lineker, backfired when it emerged that production of some flavours was moving to Poland and real meat was being used in the previously veggie-friendly meat-flavoured crisps.
Walkers would nevertheless continue to “drive forward” its home-grown campaign, said Charles.