Magazine article Marketing

BSN: Looking for an Express UK Base

Magazine article Marketing

BSN: Looking for an Express UK Base

Article excerpt

BSN: looking for an Express UK base

As BSN sets its sights on GrandMet's Express Foods division, what does the future hold for brand acquisitions like Ski and Eden Vale? Weeks of speculation about Europe's third biggest food company BSN setting its sights on all or part of Grand Metropolitan's Express Foods Group are reaching a climax.

It gives rise to one question: just what would BSN, parent of Gervais Danone dairy products, Evian mineral water, Kronenbourg lager and HP sauce, do with GrandMet's key brands Ski, Munch Bunch and Eden Vale if the deal goes ahead?

The rumours come as no surprise to those who have seen the world's biggest dairy company lobbying for a foothold in the UK.

Its most recent attempt crumbled earlier this year when its joint venture partner Anchor refused to throw all its efforts behind the Danone fromage frais and yogurt brand--in effect becoming a wholesaler for Danone.

BSN is unlikely to be deterred by this apparent setback. Under the chairmanship of Antoine Ribaud it has grown in just 25 years into a Ffr80bn company -- the eighth biggest food company worldwide. In its key sectors of dairy, biscuits, beer and mineral waters, its policy is to occupy the number one or two slot internationally. It is the biggest food producer in France, Italy, Spain and Belgium.

But it has not yet cracked the UK. Three years ago it made a bold move across the channel, buying the very British brands HP and Lea and Perrins from Hanson.

"The interesting thing is that the assets BSN has bought have been second rate assets," says one analyst. This would be pretty much the case with Express Foods, he adds. "BSN must have a very strong self-belief that it can turn those assets into top quality performers."

Taking over companies rather than working with joint venture partners is "BSN's way of doing things," remarks another industry observer. …

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