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  • Writer's pictureMeyrick Consulting

Who will take a slice of Hovis'​ business?

I’ve written about flour shortages and the potential for their continuance next year through climate issues and poor harvests. Therefore, I thought it pertinent that competition is really hotting up in bids to take a slice of Hovis’ business.

Hovis may be well-loved and best known of UK food brands, but there’s no way it’s staying in the past

Many of us still associate Hovis with Victorian values and a young boy pushing a heavily laden bike filled with loaves up an impossibly steep cobbled hill. That of course was the ethos the company had in mind when they marketed this way back in 1973. Interestingly I a poll that tv advertisement was up there as one of tv ad ’s most iconic moments. However, with more than 134 years trading, a deal, said to be worth somewhere in the region of £100 and £150 million, is very much 21st century, in its ambition. Hovis may be well-loved and best known of UK food brands, but there’s no way it’s staying in the past.

Epiris Fund II, the company that bought out Café Rouge, is in the running alongside private equity funds, food groups, European food producers and also ‘turnaround’ investors. In all there are about six companies vying to be the accepted suitor. Whatever happens, there is going to be profound change when Hovis does sell, as Premier Foods, that currently has a 49% stake in Hovis, will sell at this time too.

It will also be fascinating to see how Epiris II cope with their new acquisitions Café Rouge and Bella Italia with further restrictions being rolled out to cope with rising Covid infection rates. Yet, from Hovis’ perspective they are putting past performance aside and concentrating on the upturn in sales since the pandemic started.

We have probably all seen evidence on supermarket shelves how ambient foods have been flavour of the lockdown and beyond.

Hovis itself is said to have an estimated 28% market share in branded and pre-packaged bread. Although bread volumes had, up to 2020, dropped by 1-5% there has been a rise in profit margins and basic earnings had risen by 80%. In fact, the UK's whole bakery market is estimated to bring in around £4bn sales annually. So, with fears over Brexit fuelling potential stockpiling Hovis, and other bread makers will be rubbing the metaphorical dough from their hands!

The new buyers, whoever they turn out to be, will have plenty to consider as attitudes to food, its packaging and production is all changing. Ensuring a hyper-accurate supply and demand model is also important and so is the attitude towards hygiene, equipment failure and the role of tech when social distancing concern is paramount.

Consumers too are worried about their products being eco-friendly by cutting down on one-use plastic and waste in general.

This means companies that get the messaging right and who listen carefully to their consumers will probably do better. They also need to watch the growth of start-ups and ‘younger brands’ with different philosophies as they challenge established companies like Hovis with their ‘alternatives’ that are quickly becoming mainstream.

Tech innovations will make the difference and help companies provide healthier, more eco-friendly, safer, cheaper, easier to prepare and tastier food. The stakes are very high and the level of risk considerable. However, we are seeing a different landscape emerging as the pandemic remains global and the way we live continues to be affected.

As a recruiter I know that it is imperative to find the exact match for some pretty demanding roles that are coming on stream

Although the digital revolution has changed how people are able to recruit, advertise, digitally interview and then onboard this isn’t the whole picture. The way some companies advertise for their roles sometimes doesn’t take into account that there are multiple recruitment streams. Not everyone is actively looking for a new role, but should the right opportunity be presented to them they may well be interested.

I can help you find the right people to develop your business

My own expertise and understanding of food and drink industry recruitment practices, gleaned over 25 years, means that I can combine dogged determination, experience, technology and knowledge with an understanding of contemporary need. Therefore, if you need help in fulfilling challenging roles then do give me a call and I can discuss how we might go about doing just that.


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