Louise Reynard is Commercial Controller at St Pierre Groupe. Reynard joined the business five years ago and has been central to the company’s phenomenal growth.

She works across all three St Pierre Groupe brands – St Pierre, Baker Street and Paul Hollywood and leads on national supermarket accounts including Morrisons and ASDA.

Reynard tells Grocery Trader why the rolls category is one to watch.

What are the key products in your range that supermarkets should be stocking?

Savvy retailers will be reviewing the bakery category with interest and following the growth. With traditional sliced breads in decline, ‘rolls’ is the subcategory to watch. As a subsector, it has experienced phenomenal growth in the last two years, growing from £282mn to £365mn, a significant 30%.

Much of this growth has been generated by brands that offer something in addition to a standard plain roll. St Pierre is growing because it offers an easy way to elevate everyday meals.

Baker Street is also performing well, offering a quality product that caters to a different demand; consumers concerned about food waste and valuing store cupboard staples that won’t go past their best when the weather takes a turn and the barbecue is cancelled. What’s more though, the extended-life supports retailers trying to navigate supply chain issues, unpredictable British weather and a greater focus than ever before on wastage. By stocking Baker Street, retailers can overcome these challenges and offer a great quality product to their shoppers.

Baker Street Burger Buns and Hot Dog Rolls launched into Tesco stores last year and now all feature in the top 20 branded rolls.

Baker Street Burger Buns are up 18 per cent and Baker Street Hot Dog Rolls are up 41 per cent, year on year. That’s a clear demonstration that the brand is meeting the demands of both its trade and consumer customers. Particularly as we approach another summer season, retailers not considering bakery as a core part of the summer shopping fixture leave themselves at risk of empty shelves and missed sales or equally as bad, increased wastage.

Supermarkets need to ensure they’re offering choice in key sectors – and bakery is key in this – driving opportunities for increased basket spend and impulse purchases.

What is the value of the UK bakery market?

Bakery is such a fast-paced, dynamic sector and that’s never been more true than in the past two years. Overall, bakery is slightly down (by one per cent), but the key is to look at the sub-sectors in growth.

The demand for something more than a quick piece of toast for breakfast that emerged during lockdown is now an attitude here to stay. Certain areas of morning goods are booming and overall, ‘breakfast treats’ are now worth nearly £450mn – growing by £65mn since 2020.

St Pierre’s range of morning goods have followed a similar trajectory, up 23 per cent in the last two years. The croissant market is up 11 per cent year on year, with St Pierre’s own croissant products up 25 per cent. The pain au chocolat and pain au raisin sector is up 13 per cent across the board, but for St Pierre in the same subsector, we are showing growth of 73 per cent.

Our most popular morning goods products are the St Pierre Sliced Brioche Loaf, Pain au Chocolat products and then St Pierre Croissants. Despite the trend for breakfast treats being set to stay, there hasn’t been a huge amount of innovation in this area. At St Pierre, we are continuously reviewing our product formulas to ensure we are offering the best quality products. As a result of this, we are launching a new recipe on our 8 pack of St Pierre Croissants and Pains au Chocolat. Not only is the recipe a new, improved formulation, but it also means that these breakfast treats will cater to vegans – another trend in growth.

Elsewhere in bakery, bagels are still in growth, up 23 per cent on 2020. St Pierre is the fastest growing bakery brand and are catering to a growing appetite for authentic, quality brioche. Taking two sectors in growth has delivered our latest innovation in the St Pierre Brioche Bagel. Launched in April this year, the Brioche Bagel takes the sweetness of brioche and combines it with the breakfast staple. The same product launched in the US last year and sales are positive. We’re confident that the product will perform in UK retail, too.

Of course, bread and baked goods isn’t just about breakfast items and the growing popularity of brioche is thanks in part, to its versatility. St Pierre Brioche Burger Bun sales have grown 525 per cent in the last two years – now worth more than £12mn – and that growth is not just driven by people eating burgers. We know that consumers are enjoying our products for breakfast, lunch and dinner because we are offering an affordable luxury. Despite challenges on the horizon, consumers will still opt for quality products from trusted brands, to treat themselves well at home whilst less likely to spend on dining out or travelling.

As a brand, St Pierre is up 80 per cent year on year. That’s because we are offering products that meet consumer demand. This is reflected in the imminent launch of a four-pack of our best-selling Brioche Burger Buns. Designed to cater to smaller households, they will bring a new shopper into the category and offer further opportunity for retailers to cater to shopper needs. Choice is key – especially as we head towards the summer season. St Pierre has invested £5million in summer stock to ensure we are ready to help retailers achieve bumper summer sales.

What trends are driving the market?

The past two years have taught consumers how to make the most of at-home events and this year will be about ‘levelling up’ – taking hosting to new levels. There are myriad reasons why the at-home socialisation trend will remain key. Beyond consumers having different comfort levels when it comes to ‘returning to normal’ there are new financial factors at play. The housing market is set to record its strongest year since 2007 – that means millions of consumers are either saving money after a house move, have new homes in which to entertain guests, or both. Add to that a cost of living crisis, whereby people will appreciate the affordable luxuries more than ever before and you have a very positive outlook for another trend borne of the pandemic.

Summer socialising in the U.K. is all about the BBQ, too – and what’s a barbecue without the buns? All St Pierre Groupe products benefit from extended life and that’s key.

If the great British weather serves up an unexpected scorcher, retailers sell out of products and have to watch sales walk out the door. If, on the other hand, a beauty of a bank holiday is predicted but lets us down, retailers find themselves with shelves full of stock that’s going to go to waste. Our ambient, pre-sliced range of burger buns and hot dog rolls offers a solution to a very real challenge for our customers and a growing concern for consumers, too.

What is St Pierre Groupe’s market share and how has the company been performing?

St Pierre Groupe is the fastest growing supplier in the UK, up 13 per cent in the L52 weeks and up 50 per cent on two years ago. This growth means St Pierre Groupe is the 6th biggest branded supplier in the UK and growing ahead of any others in the top five.

Our international growth is also worth noting – the business has doubled its headcount in the last 18 months, appointing new colleagues in the US to maximise the opportunity for growth over the pond, where St Pierre is also the number one brioche brand.

How do you work with retailers to maximise your sales through the channel?

We work in collaboration with retailers because when they’re successful, so are we. This means listening to their challenges and needs, understanding their shoppers and delivering effective solutions. You can see examples of this in our product launches, adjustments to pack sizes and perhaps most notably, in merchandising. We have worked with retailers this summer to design bespoke shippers that help deliver the ‘brand experience’ whilst helping drive footfall to the category in-store.

In America and Ireland, we’ve had huge success with St Pierre, merchandising via Eiffel Towers that make the most of a smaller space whilst creating some in-store theatre. We are working to introduce these merchandising solutions, including cross-merchandising solutions in table-toppers and knee-knockers, into the UK retail environment. We know that they engage customers and most importantly, drive sales. We’re also always open to ideas, investing in retailer-specific marketing support beyond merchandising and we’re looking forward to trialling new tactics this summer sales period.

Do you have any NPD on the horizon?

The branded burger bun and hot dog category has now reached £38mn, with growth of 180 per cent in the last two years. Working with our retailers to see how we can help continue to grow the category, we developed a smaller four-pack of our best-selling Brioche Burger Buns to meet our consumers needs and deliver in-store and on shelf.

Seventy per cent of households without children would rather buy a four-pack than a six-pack and food waste is a growing concern for shoppers. By launching a four-pack, we can help our retailers to bring new shoppers into the category, driving sales and appealing to a younger demographic.

In addition, we’ve launched a brand-new St Pierre product in our Brioche Bagel. It combines two growing subsectors. Our brioche bagel was first to market in America and is driving growth for us Stateside and consumer trends are broadly the same. Bagels have been in growth for some time – supermarket sales of bagels have nearly doubled since 2017, growing 85 per cent and worth more than £164mn in 2021 (Kantar). We are offering a new way to elevate your breakfast, brunch, or lunchtime with a soft brioche bagel. Available pre-sliced in packs of four, we’re confident it will further St Pierre’s growth this year.

What marketing activity do you have planned for this year?

Our commercial team is working closely with the marketing team to ensure that we are supporting the brands at the right time in the right channels. This year, we’re able to do in-person events again, so that’s exciting for all of us. We have a series of trade and consumer shows in the pipeline to support summer and each of our brands has a dedicated marketing support plan to help bolster brand awareness and of course, maximise sales.

 

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