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Success is sweet

Interview with Frank Gemmrig, Managing Director of Cavendish & Harvey Confectionery GmbH

European Food: There is something very nostalgic about Cavendish & Harvey’s packaging. How do you keep such a traditional product relevant for today’s market?

Frank Gemmrig: As with any brand, identifying your target audience and positioning your product accordingly is the key to success. We have always asserted our claim in the premium sector and targeted the adult market. Our metal tins look good on an office desk and the sweets can be sucked discreetly unlike snacks like crisps, which are messy as well as loud. Therefore the product is great for individual consumption or sharing.

European Food: The company was founded in 1932 as an importer of mainly UK-produced sweets. How has the product range evolved since then?

Frank Gemmrig: The classics in our product range are our traditional fruit drops and boiled sweets. Fruit drops in 21 different flavours are marketed in our trademark gold tins. While we now offer one of the widest ranges in the market, classic flavours such as mixed fruit, tropical fruit, lemon, orange and sour cherry continue to be bestsellers. In response to market trends, we also have sugar-free lines. We also continue the tradition of selling brightly coloured fruit-shaped and flavoured candies in Victorianstyle glass sweet jars. More recently, we have added new packaging options including our favourite fruit drops in individual packaging. We also supplement our range with products such as mints, toffees, eclairs and fudge.

European Food: What new products do you currently have in the pipeline?

Frank Gemmrig: In May of this year, we will launch an entirely new product group – winegums. Marketed under the slogan ‘Winegums for Connoisseurs’, they are available in lemon, orange, apple, blackcurrant and raspberry flavours. Made with only natural colours and flavourings, these classic English treats are a natural complement to our existing product range.

European Food: You export over 80% of production to more than 85 countries worldwide. Which do you see as your key markets?

Frank Gemmrig: As a German company our performance in our home market lags behind that of other markets. Our most successful markets at the moment are in Asia and in particular China followed by Korea, the Philippines, Japan, Vietnam and Singapore. Australia, the Middle East and North America are all ahead of our European markets. While focusing on export, the German market took a hit in 2012 but, through launching new products as well as the classic round metal boxes, it is recovering. We hope to be able to recover lost ground through our expanded product range. Our brand enjoys a higher level of market recognition abroad than at home but that is perhaps unsurprising given our traditionally English image.

European Food: What strategies are you employing to raise brand awareness?

Frank Gemmrig: We are working to freshen up our image and appeal to the younger generation with new packaging formats and products. In addition to the traditional tins, we have also adopted resealable pouches as a packaging option. These are widely available in ‘on-the-go’ retail channels such as service stations, airport shops and railway station kiosks. We are also embracing the possibilities of e-commerce as a sales channel and are investing in supporting our brand’s online presence.

European Food: For a long time, fat was the dietary enemy. Now it is sugar. How do you think this will affect your business?

Frank Gemmrig: I think that adults, who are our main target group, know that sweets are something to be enjoyed in moderation. I also think that the possibility to overeat our products is fairly small. Our boiled sweets are generally sucked over a period of time. That is quite a drawn-out sweetness hit in comparison to other sweets that can be consumed much more quickly. In that sense they are actually a fairly low sugar treat. By putting our sweets in a reclosable tin, we are also making clear that they are to be consumed over time rather than all at once.

European Food: Cavendish & Harvey celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. How will you be marking this event?

Frank Gemmrig: We already held a reception for our distributors at the ISM trade fair in Berlin earlier this year and we will be holding similar events throughout the year. Forty years is a significant landmark to have achieved and it has only been possible through the hard work of our employees and partners. It is them that we wish to thank throughout the year.

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