In his first big interview since the company bought Seriously Strong manufacturer McLelland Group in January, MD Andy Smith told The Grocer he was convinced Seriously Strong had the potential to overtake leading Cheddar brand Cathedral City.
In September, Lactalis will launch sliced Seriously Strong, which is aimed at making Cheddar quicker and more convenient to consume. It represents a technological success as Cheddar is traditionally a crumbly cheese which is hard to slice.
In November, spreadable Seriously Strong - offering a more powerful taste to most spreads on the market - will further extend the brand.
Smith said Lactalis was also hoping to export the £53m value brand to 10 countries, including Japan and Scandinavia, and may set up additional manufacturing bases. It will most likely be sold abroad under the Président label rather than as Seriously Strong.
“Until a few years ago there were not any cheese brands of note in the UK, but consumers are changing and seeking products outside of own label,” said Smith. “Cathedral City is a well marketed brand and it’s clearly innovating and growing. But we think we have some great plans for Seriously Strong to respond to that.”
The company plans to take a marketing-led approach to growth, investing £5m in above-the-line activity for Seriously Strong and Président this year, including a £250,000 Seriously Strong roadshow this summer.
Smith said Lactalis was now the most important UK branded player, with a presence across many cheese varieties.