The company, owned 2 Sisters Food Group, saw sales fall 2.7% to £117m, with Crunch Creams down 18.6% and Rocky down 27.9%, according to Nielsen figures for the 52 weeks ending 17 May 2014.
Premium gifting market
“We need to add value to the Fox’s brand and make it more acceptable in the premium gifting market. We are contemporising the brand – its look, feel and visual identity. It is a step-change for Fox’s,” he told ConfectioneryNews.
Fox’s reincarnation features new contemporary pack designs, product launches and recipe reformulations to increase the brand’s premium appeal in existing and new categories, and to generate incremental sales.
The ongoing programme of product launches will focus on gifting and ‘staged’ occasions, with most activity involving five core ‘hero’ brands – Crunch, Viennese, Chunky Cookies, Party Rings and Rocky.
The strategy includes consolidating Fox’s Crinkles, Crunch Creams and Amber biscuits, under the Crunch brand.
“Our strategy is simple: to focus on our five strongest brands, to target the events market and develop new products to reinvigorate the brand.
“We are looking at the category differently and broadening our product reach to compete in bakery and confectionery as well as the biscuit category,” said Smith.
Centre of excellence
Since joining the Fox’s team in March, Smith has taken drastic steps to reverse the brand’s sales slump amid tough competition from the likes of Burton’s and United Biscuits in the UK and abroad.
He has created a ‘commercial centre of excellence’ consisting of a new sales and marketing team charged with developing a ‘multi-layered approach’ to promotions and marketing, with a new focus on social media.
“Historically Fox’s has focused on promoting products through TV and Facebook, but we want to increase our social media presence. We are going to be far more product-centric than we have been in the past,” said Smith.
“It’s not about value engineering but generosity with high quality ingredients and more of it in line with our new brand positioning ‘more yum for your crumb’.”
Smith also wants to break into new export markets, like Japan and China, while reinforcing its position in existing markets, including South Africa, Australia, the USA and Canada.
“We have already made big strides abroad with products in Walmart in Japan, for example, but with the introduction of a new export team, we are aiming to treble exports over the next three years.”
The overseas brand strategy will mirror that of the UK, says Smith, and will focus on the ‘hero’ brands, which already have a loyal following on the continent and hold a ‘position of high quality’.