Case Study: United Biscuits

United Biscuits (UB), producer of such globally enjoyed biscuits as McVitie’s, Carr’s and Jacob’s, currently exports to over 100 countries.

Exports are of vital importance to UB, accounting for 19% of the company’s revenue at the end of 2014. UB’s exports have gone from being a trading business, to becoming its growth engine with fully dedicated professionals and revenue of over £220 million, with emerging markets accounting for the majority of this rapid growth.

UB International (UBI) is a multi-cultural team of 1,200 people around the world with a head office in London. It is focused on being the growth engine for UB by increasing sales revenue and giving UB a much bigger presence around the world.

UB’s largest international markets are the Middle East, North America, Continental Europe and West Africa. Since 2009, international expansion has been high on the growth agenda. In 2009, UB acquired its first factory in India and launched its commercial business. Six years later, consumers across India can enjoy a tasty whole-wheat, celebrity-endorsed range of McVitie’s biscuits. In 2012, UB re-launched the McVitie’s brand in China, after an absence of more than ten years, with strong results. In 2013, a joint venture driven by strong consumer demand for McVitie’s biscuits in Saudi Arabia was set up, called International Biscuit Company (IBC). This has expanded UB’s manufacturing capabilities in the region, allowing UB to offer products that consumers are demanding.

In 2015, UB expanded production capabilities in Nigeria through the local acquisition of A&P Foods to develop a range of locally produced Nigerian biscuits and snacks to meet consumer demand. This leaves UB with three fully functioning hubs covering West Africa, India and the Middle East.

The McVitie’s biscuit range is UB’s most successful product, with sales led by McVitie’s Digestives. Testimony to their global appeal, McVitie’s Digestives are enjoyed in markets around the world, from Europe through to Asia. Being such a versatile biscuit, the McVitie’s Digestive is eaten for breakfast in Italy, as a cracker with toppings in Sweden, and as an accompaniment to coffee and tea in the Middle East – and what each of these markets have in common is that McVitie’s is seen as a successful British brand of deliciously wholesome biscuits. UB also develops McVitie’s products specifically for international markets, including Digestive Bars, Wholewheat Digestives and Cashew cookies.

To help build the McVitie’s brand worldwide, McVitie’s communicates with consumers in local markets – through locally relevant marketing activities, ranging from an AC Milan sponsorship in Italy, television advertising in Saudi Arabia to catchy radio jingles in Nigeria.

UB works hard to understand local consumer needs and deliver top quality biscuits to every consumer.

Sectors: Bakery Products, Food & Drink, and Food & Drink Manufacturing
Topics: Business Development, Export Planning, Export Process, and Sales & Marketing
Export Action Plan