United Biscuits has moved across one of its top marketers to act as a
troubleshooter on the group’s beleaguered KP crisps business, under
sustained attack from Pepsico’s Walkers brands and own-label.
Paul New has been marketing director of McVitie’s Prepared Foods - the
division that makes the Linda McCartney ready meals and San Marco pizzas
- for three years. His new role will involve a radical action plan for
the crisps unit, which has been rumoured to be up for sale.
‘My job is to apply a fresh set of eyes to the business and come up with
a set of options for it,’ said New. He will be working alongside crisps
business unit director Doug Clydesdale, who was brought back from Golden
Wonder a year ago as the company reported disastrous financial results.
Two months ago, UB chairman Colin Short announced 15% higher interim
profits at KP, boosted mainly by brands like Hula Hoops and Skips in the
snacks unit. But Short admitted that ‘the crisps market remains
difficult: our increased sales in branded crisps were offset by a
significant reduction in own-label, where the sector declined by 13%’.
KP’s crisp brands McCoys, Roysters and Brannigans are relatively strong
in pubs, off-licences and impulse shops, but lose out on volume in the
multiples, where Walkers is particularly strong.