Magazine article Management Today

MCA Management Awards 2009: Best Small Firm and Winner, Customer Engagement Category

Magazine article Management Today

MCA Management Awards 2009: Best Small Firm and Winner, Customer Engagement Category

Article excerpt


The Best Small Firm Award is given to the best entry made by a small firm (under 50 full-time consultants) across the 11 remaining categories after the Platinum Award has been made.

If you're of a certain age and have spent time in the north of England, there's a good chance you have a sentimental connection to Seabrook Crisps. It's a well-loved brand, but hazy memories and affection aren't enough to sustain a business that had changed little in 30 years - particularly in a market dominated by Walkers, complete with enough marketing budget to make Gary Lineker the face of its ads and a fearsome new-product development programme.

Established in 1945 by a Mr C Brook (geddit?), Seabrook Crisps remains in family ownership. But when Ken Brook-Chrispin took over the reins in 2006, he knew the business had to change fundamentally. He wanted to stay true to its values but create a new way of doing business with trade buyers, who demand national brands supported by big trade and consumer marketing campaigns. He had his work cut out: the company had no structured approach to sales and marketing, no regular dialogue with buyers, no key account strategy and no formal new-product development programme. Brook-Chrispin was aware too that the crisp market was in decline and that concerns about health and obesity were taking another bite out of the business.

Propaganda recommended a discovery programme - a 360-degree audit of what trade customers and consumers wanted, what they thought of Seabrook and what for them made it different. This 12-week process included top-team workshops, one-to-one interviews with directors, employees and trade buyers, and consumer focus groups.

Research within the top team identified a fundamental failing: there was no regular forum for addressing business strategy. Propaganda developed a business plan driven by a monthly board meeting and Propaganda chairman Julian Kynaston was appointed as non-executive director with responsibility for chairing and directing these meetings.

Senior management were, for the first time, challenged to own their departmental development plans, reporting to the board with progress updates. The board also agreed to make important new hires with the necessary skills to take the business forward, including a new managing director with FMCG and big-brand experience. …

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