Burtons eyes global growth

Burton's eyes global growth

Burton's Biscuit Co. is working to extend the international reach of its brands and has selected "a number" of markets where the UK biscuit maker will pursue growth.

Stuart Wilson, chief marketing officer, told just-food: "We have identified a number of markets where we see distinct opportunities... We have a great portfolio of brands and... we see opportunities to operate in the premium segment in [overseas] markets."

The company operates in the UK and Ireland as well as international markets including the US, Canada and France.

Wilson said Burton's intends to increase its presence in markets such as the US, where it already has a foothold and sees further room to grow. "If you look at somewhere like the US, there are premium European brands that have done very well," he observed.

The group's overseas presence will focus on premium segments and Wilson expects its international drive will initially centre on developed markets. "When we look at different markets, taking product from the UK into these markets [necessitates] a premium focus... In the near-term we are focusing on developed markets. But I wouldn't rule out emerging market [growth]."

In the Cadbury biscuit brand - manufactured under licence from Mondelez International - Burton's has a "global powerhouse", Wilson said. "It is an extraordinarily strong brand in markets around the world," he said. However, the company is also looking at the potential to expand its other leading brands - such as Maryland, Wagon Wheels and Jammie Dodgers - internationally.

Overseas expansion is one plank in Burton's drive to lift its growth trajectory, Wilson said.

Burton's was acquired by the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan last year. At the time, the pension fund indicated it would invest in Burton's in order to expand the firm's sales base.

"The intention of the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan was very much to step-change the growth of the business... That will be a combination of international growth, accelerated internal development and taking advantage of any external development opportunities that may present themselves," Wilson observed.

The company has launched a number of innovations in the UK, including expanding into savoury biscuits through a tie-up with Dairy Crest's Cathedral City cheese brand. Most recently, Burton's launched Cadbury Wispa biscuits in the market.

On the M&A front, Wilson said management was keeping its eye open for any opportunities. "In my experience of M&A... things either move very quickly or very slowly. You can't rely on M&A to occur - you need to stay agile."