Guest article

Speed and quality is of the essence for British confectioner Jakemans

By Anthony Myers

- Last updated on GMT

Jakemans has nearly 10 years of heritage in the US market. Pic Jakemans
Jakemans has nearly 10 years of heritage in the US market. Pic Jakemans

Related tags Manufacturing

Phil Witcomb, director of international sales at Jakemans, explains how this distinctly British brand is future-proofing its business with a global export strategy from the US to the Middle East.

Jakemans opened its factory in Boston, Lincolnshire over 100 years ago. Since then, although the business’s ethos and family values have remained, the Jakemans menthol confectionery business has grown dramatically.

In fact, thanks to a new innovative stick pack machine at the Lincolnshire factory, this British manufacturing business can wrap 1,500 sweets every minute and 150 stick packs in the same time. That equates to 2.5 million sweets every day!

This level of production is catering for the ever-growing demand for Jakemans soothing menthol sweets, which are sold across supermarkets, pharmacies and convenience stores throughout the UK. Despite the UK being the leading market for Jakemans, we’re not just supplying our delicious menthol sweets on British soil.

As a business, we’re extending our reach beyond the UK and even beyond European shores. Like many businesses in this sector, we’re finding that neighbouring European markets are becoming increasingly crowded and competitive.

While these markets remain important to us, we’re also ambitious to grow our business in the US and further afield. By extending our remit to markets in the Middle East and Far East, we’re looking to take this distinctly British brand to a truly global market.

Expansion to the US

An increasingly important part of our business is the US export market, still the largest consumer goods market in the world. As a category, cough drops amount to a whopping $1 billion of sales in the US, which presents a fantastic opportunity for Jakemans.

Despite the size of the market, this sector isn’t without its challenges: it’s not unusual to walk into a store in the US and find 50-60 different products competing in this space, so the quality of the product is paramount.

There are also big differences in consumer taste – for example, the popularity of ‘apple pie’ as a cough sweet flavour in the US is something that you’re unlikely to see on UK shelves.

Jakemans has nearly 10 years of heritage in the US market and we’re pleased to see this going from strength to strength. We now have a dedicated team based out in the states to take our business to the next level and we’ve also acquired Smiths Brothers, a brand of cough sweets founded back in 1847, which shares the historic and family values of Jakemans.

Emerging markets

It’s not just the US that is a major focus area for Jakemans. We’re very excited to be exploring routes to market in the Far East and Middle East including UAE, China and Iraq. 

Despite the different climates across the globe, the appeal of the menthol based sweet extends to consumers worldwide.

To future-proof the business, we are exploring working with trusted partners in each of these markets to extend the reach of our brand and product into emerging markets. Although this is far from an overnight transition – with a variety of legislative and regulatory challenges – we’re excited at the prospect of growing Jakemans globally, both now and in the long-term.

Looking to the future

It is amazing to be a part of the Jakemans journey, which has seen the organisation transform over the past 100 years from a small business to a brand which is extending into new markets across the globe. Although the heritage of Jakemans will always be in the UK, the appeal of this delicious tasting menthol sweet is reaching far beyond the Lincolnshire town where it all began.

With a robust export strategy ranging from the US to the Far East, Jakemans will continue to grow, future-proofing the brand for another 100 years and more.

Related topics Candy