This Masterfoods newcomer smashed its way through an ambitious £30m target. Simon Mowbray reports

When a company boldly promises to deliver a £30m-a-year brand within two years and then promptly cracks that milestone in less than 18 months, it is bound to impress the judges at The Grocer Gold Awards.
And that’s exactly what happened to Masterfoods’ biscuit newcomer Bisc& which picked up its Gold Award after breaching the £25m barrier within 12 months of its January 2003 launch, according to statistics from ACNielsen.
Praise of the biscuit newcomer - which comes in variants spanning the Mars, Twix, Bounty and M& M’s countlines - has been generous from both the retailing and consumer communities, both of which have bought into a format that was already a tried and tested success for Masterfoods overseas.Even so, taking something that works for one market and transferring it to another is not always a guaranteed success. Coca-Cola’s Dasani is testament to that.
But a decent product and a £15m first-year advertising spend have conspired to get things going nicely in the right way.
Among those not surprised are Masterfoods trading director for snackfood Paul Lees, who along with fellow trading
director Martin Porter was on hand to pick up the prestigious trophy for the best branded new product development at last week’s awards ceremony.
“We are really pleased with how the product has done,” said Lees. “I wouldn’t say we were surprised by Bisc&’s success but it has exceeded even our expectations.
“But I believe that we executed the launch better than we expected and got some really good support from the retailers, which is important.
“We were trying to do something new in the category and bring together a number of confectionery brands into biscuits, which
was a fresh approach and a real challenge. We learned a lot of lessons from the launch in Europe, particularly with regard to the impact of display and making sure it was in high profile areas of stores. We went for as many off-shelf display options as possible within the first three months and that also worked well.”
Now Lees is already turning his attention towards the brand’s future and has revealed that Bounty and Snickers variants will join the existing range on shelf before the end of the year.
“We will try to sustain the success we have achieved so far,” added Lees.
Warburtons was named Best Branded Supplier after senior buyers from across the industry voted it the best of the 10 shortlisted suppliers.
The baker picked up the award for the second year running, testament to its ability to maintain its supply of bread just 48 hours after a fire at its Wednesbury plant, according to Warburtons executive chairman Jonathan Warburton.
“We were absolutely delighted last year to win The Grocer best branded supplier award. To win it again this year is great reward and recognition of the commitment demonstrated by everyone at Warburtons.
“Quality drives everything we do and winning the award is testament to that.” Warburton also recognised the hard work of staff and said the award brought the company nearer to its goal of delivering top-level customer service.
“It really is the culmination of the efforts of everyone who works at Warburtons.
“They put a lot of care and effort into delivering not only a quality product but also an excellent service to our customers,” he added.
“Our aim at Warburtons is to continually improve our customer service and work collaboratively with our partners to demonstrate category leadership.
“Winning this award brings us one step closer to achieving this.”