Burton’s Biscuit Company slashed 14% of its SKUs last year to reduce costs and focus on best-selling lines, The Grocer can reveal.

The total number of SKUs in the company portfolio, which includes Jammie Dodgers and Cadbury Biscuits, fell from 700 to 600 over the year as Burton’s dumped less popular packaging formats and sizes.

The reduction had simplified the business and improved cost efficiency, Burton’s said. “By reducing total SKU numbers and increasing focus on stronger products, you can reduce complexity and reduce cost in the supply chain,” said Burton’s CEO Ben Clarke.

Burton’s removed 40% of the SKUs under its Maryland cookie brand at the start of 2011. The strategy had worked as despite the drop in numbers, the brand’s sales had increased over the year, claimed Clarke.

However, Burton’s had to “strike a balance” between the benefits of lower SKU numbers and the need to offer retailers enough variety, he said, especially as retailers were trying to align their offers more closely with individual store demographics.

Meanwhile, the company is investing in its manufacturing facilities, bringing in more automation and robotics to improve efficiency and cut costs. It has been building new production lines in Edinburgh that will increase capacity by between 10% and 20%, and is upgrading facilities in Blackpool and South Wales.

“All our plants are getting more efficient every year,” said Clarke.