As businesses grow organically and through acquisition, how can they best keep the core of what made the company most appealing to customers in sight?

Increasingly, as the fmcg sector becomes crowded with new entries and product iterations, the heritage of a company becomes more important as it is something that drives trust in consumers.

It is the ethos, history and heritage behind a product that can be central to the consumers’ purchase intent. A business’s story and heritage, in a world that continues to change rapidly, gives consumers a link to past positive experiences and a reason to trust in the quality of a product before purchasing. In short, consumers search for authentic brands with genuine history in a crowded, global marketplace1.

But the question is, how can businesses ensure their roots remain visible as their portfolio continually reaches new heights, and is it possible to maintain the ethos and identity of a business as it evolves?

Staying true to heritage and values for generations


Beginning as a small family ‘pasticceria’ in 1946 in the northern Italian town of Alba, sweet packaged foods company, Ferrero, has continued to steadily launch, grow, and recently acquire a range of brands while staying true to its roots of strong family values, a dedication to quality and a determination to deliver the best for its consumers. Three quarters of a century on and this still holds true for the company which is now one of the world’s largest sweet packaged foods companies.

Philippe Steyaert, managing director of Ferrero UK & Ireland, says: “From our approach to helping to protect the environment and our commitment to sourcing ingredients sustainably, to our dedication to promoting responsible consumption and empowering our people, our purpose and values continue to provide a strong foundation and are a guiding force as the company continues to evolve and grow.”

These cornerstones have helped the business to expand and has made some of its iconic brands, like Nutella, Kinder and Ferrero Rocher, family favourites across the UK and Ireland since 1966.

“Producing quality products for consumers, while respecting people and the planet, has always been our top priority,” continues Steyaert. “We combine modern methods with a long-standing passion that lives across all stages of our value chain, from sourcing and product development all the way to our trade partners and the final consumer.

“With strong investments in innovation, and the desire to create moments of joy for our consumers, what makes us unique is cultivating an approach that is based on quality, sustainability, innovation and family values.”

But Ferrero’s unwavering dedication to quality does not stop with its heritage brands. It’s an ethos that continues to underpin the company as it evolves and grows.

Committed to the UK market

When Ferrero acquired the chocolate confectionery company Thorntons in 2015, it brought together two complementary businesses that share the same passion for innovative brand growth, underpinned by a proud heritage with drive and culture built upon family foundations. Since then, it has invested more than £45 million to develop the Thorntons brand and its factory in Alfreton, Derbyshire. Now, the Alfreton site has become a Centre of Excellence for assortments and model figures for the Ferrero group.

What’s more is that with the support of Ferrero, Thorntons remains committed to delivering great quality products, with new and exciting tastes that provide the nation with chocolate they can enjoy with their loved ones. For example, the Thorntons Classic range has been remastered to enhance flavour and quality, with the range growing consistently at +21% and the latest taste innovation, Thorntons Pearls, has added £1.8m RSV to the category over Christmas alone.

With Ferrero’s expertise, Thorntons has developed a meticulous approach to quality using innovation and care in every step of the product creation. From the sourcing of its quality ingredients which are carefully selected from its long-term suppliers and farmers, the quality checks throughout the production process, to even the product packaging which is designed to maintain the freshness and quality standards. As a result of this dedicated approach, Thorntons has enjoyed success, growing +10.1% vs the market (at +6.1%).

Ferrero’s dedication to innovation, quality and excellence is an ethos that it also brings to new acquisitions, the most recent of which are Eat Natural and Fulfil. This has helped to grow the company’s presence in the UK and expanded it into new markets and category segments that meet the evolving needs and trends of its consumers.

Over recent years, the Ferrero UK and Ireland region has continued to grow from strength to strength with its distinctive brands, campaigns and category leadership while keeping quality at the heart of everything it does, but it recognises that it’s more than just the brands that makes the company what it is today – it’s also about the people.


Nurturing a diverse and inclusive workforce

People are at the heart of the business, and Ferrero’s philosophy is, and always has been, centred around caring for its people.

“We’ve always advocated that a diverse and inclusive workforce and culture of strong values is crucial to long-term business success,” says Steyaert. “That’s why we’re passionate about providing our people with policies that help support them through all stages of their lives, such as extra paid leave to support those going through their journey of adoption, fertility treatments and surrogacy, paid leave for those who experience pregnancy loss and paid leave for those who are caregivers.

“As we grow and diversify, we’re on a journey of continuous learning and adapting to meet our goal of building a better place to work. Our people are our biggest assets and in nurturing them, we provide the means to succeed personally and professionally throughout their journey with Ferrero. We will continue to support the business by engaging and inspiring our workforce who are the driving force behind our Quality at Heart ethos.”

While much has evolved at the company, the third-generation family-owned business has always stayed true to its heritage and heralds much of its success to the commitment it has to the strong family values that has underpinned the company from the start. And this approach has seen Ferrero ranked as the top food company in the 2022 Reputation Institute’s 100 most reputable companies list.

“The UK and Ireland have played an incredibly important role in the growth and development of the business,” says Steyaert. “As a result of our continuous dedication to innovation, quality and excellence while staying true to our values, we’re proud to have provided, and continue to provide, our consumers with our unique brands that are loved generation after generation, delivering not only a great taste but are produced in a way that also helps protect people and our planet.”

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[1] The Importance of brand heritage as a key performance driver in marketing management, Dec 2011, Journal of Brand Management, 19 (3) DOI.1057/bm.2011.36