They have been a staple at children’s parties for decades. Generations have eagerly sunk their teeth into the crispy biscuit covered in chunky chocolate. But now Club biscuits, that iconic feature of the British lunchbox, are set to become the focus of a tussle between two companies – because the French reckon that the chocolate-coated treat is too sweet for its own good.
Danone, the French food giant that owns the Club brand, declared earlier this month that it wanted to stop making the biscuit because Club is “too sweet’ for the Continental palate. This is a move that threatens the Jacobs Bakery plant at Aintree, near Liverpool, who have been making Club for more than 80 years.
But two players in the British biscuit industry are looking at buying Club. Tate & Furst, which makes Maryland Cookies and biscuits under the Cadbury name, agreed to pay £130m for Burton’s, maker of Wagon Wheels and Jammie Dodgers. It is likely to want the Club business. And Northern Foods, owner of Fox’s biscuits, is also expected to bid.
Merchant bank Lazards, which is handling potential bids for the business, refused to comment.
Club’s most famous advertising slogan was “If you like a lot of chocolate on your biscuit come and join our Club.” But in 1996 a cheekier slogan sparked complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority. Kingsize Clubs were advertised on posters with the words: “Every man’s dream. An extra one and a half inches in the lunchbox department.”