Zaini has secured licences for characters like Spiderman

Zaini has secured licences for characters like Spiderman

Bon Bon Buddies has secured a deal to distribute the products of Italian confectioner Zaini in the UK and believes it can win supermarket listings.

The agreement, announced today (13 May), will see Wales-based Bon Bon Buddies handle Zaini products including confectionery sold using character licences like Spiderman and Mickey Mouse.

The contract marks Zaini's return to the UK three years after it left the market. Zaini was supplying chocolate eggs to the UK's impulse channel but Disney's decision to halt sales saw the confectioner exit the country.

A spokesperson for Bon Bon Buddies said the company had started talks with supermarkets over listings.

"They are targeting all types of outlets, right across the sector from spot or impulse buys to the major supermarkets. They have only recently begun liaison with the major stores so haven't yet confirmed any listings, but are confident that the quality of the product will appeal," the spokesperson said.

Zaini is looking to build on its business outside Italy, which accounts for 60% of its turnover. Bon Bon Buddies already distributes its products in France and Poland.

"Bon Bon Buddies is one of the UK's most strategic and professional distributors, and already has an excellent in-depth knowledge of the UK market and licensing environment. Our long-term aim is to build our presence across all UK market sectors, growing distribution year on year," Zaini export manager Giacomo Sessa said.

Fifteen per cent of Bon Bon Buddies' sales come through deals to distribute products for other confectioners. It handles confectionery for companies including German confectioner Alfred Ritter GmbH & Co. and Austrian candy firm Pez.

In the year to the end of April 2013, Bon Bon Buddies' turnover hit GBP37.2m (US$62.6m), down from the GBP39.5m generated a year earlier.

The bulk of Bon Bon Buddies' business comes from manufacturing confectionery sold under character licences across Europe and the Middle East. Last year, it added a proprietary brand - The Bon Bon Buddies - to its portfolio.

Some 60% of Bon Bon Buddies' sales are made outside the UK. The company has subsidiaries in France, Germany, the Nordic region and Poland covering the EU and helping it move into the Middle East, where it has just entered Saudi Arabia.

Click here for an interview with Bon Bon Buddies founder and MD Chris Howarth, published in March.