Ian McMahon, chief executive officer of food giant RHM, has explicitly laid the blame for falling turnover at its Manor Bakeries division at design’s door.
In an unusual move, while unveiling RHM’s interim financial results in December, McMahon pointedly noted that the now-axed packs for Mr Kipling, created by Turner Duckworth, were ‘designed to create a more premium feel, [but] proved to be less popular with our core customer base’.
Consumers’ rejection of the designs, coupled with a lower promotional spend on own-brand labels by RHM, led to a £16m decline in turnover for Manor Bakeries, he claims. ‘These factors combined to cause a significant decline in demand for the most popular Mr Kipling products,’ said McMahon.
The company subsequently appointed non-roster consultancy Vibrandt to redesign packaging for the Mr Kipling range (DW 10 November 2005), which is expected to relaunch in the first quarter of this year.
Turner Duckworth’s designs were introduced in January 2005, but early positive reactions did not last. According to McMahon, ‘Initial encouraging results from new Mr Kipling and Cadbury’s Cake products and repackaging towards the end of the last financial year were not sustained, with Mr Kipling sales in particular falling below our previous expectations.’
RHM intends to introduce ‘higher quality, more competitive versions of existing products, with more effective packaging’ to the market in the first quarter of this year. Vibrandt’s redesign of Mr Kipling is expected to take cues from the brand’s packaging heritage, rather than offer an alternative premium design.
RHM has pledged to ‘put the necessary marketing support behind the Mr Kipling brand’ and is introducing a sub-range called Delightful this month, also designed by Vibrandt.
MR KIPLING RELAUNCH DENTS RHM INTERIMS
• Mr Kipling relaunched with Turner Duckworth-designed packs in January 2005
• Underlying profits at cakes division fell from £7.9m to £1m year-on-year for the six months to November 2005
• Total RHM turnover up by 0.3 per cent, clipped by a 13.1 per cent fall in cakes division; excluding cakes, turnover increased by 3 per cent
• Vibrandt working on new Mr Kipling packaging for launch early this year