A change of management and a number of new product launches in the UK were the main reason for a solid nine-month sales performance from the confectionery arm of Swiss food group Nestlé.
The company yesterday reported sales of SF64.6 million for the first nine months of 2004, unchanged from the previous year on a reported basis but some 2.9 per cent higher excluding the impact of acquisitions, price changes and currency fluctuations.
Within that, the chocolate, confectionery and biscuits business accounted for sales of SF7.1 billion, slightly higher than the previous year on a reported basis and some 3.1 per cent higher on a like-for-like basis, making the division one of the best performers within the diversified food group.
A turnaround in the British market was one of the principal drivers of growth in the confectionery sector, according to Nestlé spokesman François-Xavier Perroud.
"The last year or so has been something of trying period in the UK confectionery sector for us, and it is no secret that we had lost our way a little," an oblique reference to the well-documented problems facing the KitKat brand, which lost its crown as the leading UK countline bar to rival Cadbury's Dairy Milk.
"Our UK marketing was not up to scratch, and it became necessary to introduce new management there," Perroud said, adding that the change of leadership had led to a rapid improvement. As we reported earlier this month, new products such as a white chocolate variant and premium Seville orange and caramel versions of the core KitKat brand have put it well on the way back to the top of the ranking.
Confectionery operations in all other countries performed in line with expectations during the first nine months of the year, according to Perroud.