Soreen is one of the most famous and iconic brands in the UK food industry, with a 75 year history and a unique product offering. The business is based in Manchester, manufacturing healthy indulgent snacks for both the UK and international markets.
They produce a range of products, all offering the infamous soft, ‘squidgy’ energy and indulgent malt loaf characteristic. Historically, the key product was the iconic large Malt Loaf but the future centres upon innovation aimed at high growth eating occasions such as Lunchbox Loaves, Pre-buttered Snack Pack and Breakfast Bakes.
The business is extremely well positioned as the UK government continues to strive to reduce our sugar and fat consumption, particularly in relation to kids. Indeed, in a recent BBC article Soreen was the lead product promoted as a snack with less than 100 calories and ideal for a child’s lunch box.
Soreen had been recently acquired by Samworth Brothers, the privately owned UK food group, and as part of their federalist integration model it was decided that they would need a different type of leader for the business. Samworth’s wanted the business to remain relatively autonomous, retaining its entrepreneurial flair. However, a greater level of brand and consumer focus, internal process and leadership accountability needed to be instilled in to the organisation.
The brief was to find an individual who offered the best practice general management expertise that is trained in to future leaders in the best corporate environments. The individual’s career background would predominantly have been spent in the marketing stream but seeded with relevant commercial and operational exposure. Their approach would need to be heavily team-centric, helping ensure the successful, prompt infusion of the well-known and respected ethical and moral position embraced by Samworth’s. Finally, bakery experience would be seen as an advantage but not a necessity.
Drayton Partners Approach
The first step was a detailed discussion with the main Board Director at Samworth’s who had responsibility for this part of the company portfolio. The immediate challenges and opportunities for Soreen were shared and debated with the Drayton team but also the longer-term ambitions for the business including its role within the Group. Finally, a factory tour was essential, both to see product being made but also to gain first hand exposure to the 'beat' of the business and its people.
The project brief brought all of the prep together and would be delivered by a dedicated in-house researcher and a Drayton senior partner. The team swiftly approached existing, ‘known’ individuals; sought recommendations from their extensive sector network; and made targeted approaches to general managers in appropriate peer businesses.
The shortlist consisted of candidates all offering highly credible brand expertise harvested from time spent in businesses including Unilever, P&G, ABF and United Biscuits. The successful individual had been trained in the first half of their career at Nestle, working on many of their most important food brands. Most recently, he had enjoyed great success as main board Marketing Director at Warburtons, thereby bringing extensive bakery and snacking knowledge and experience.
The new MD at Soreen has successfully steered the business through an exciting and progressive period of cultural change. It has become a significantly more ‘values-led’ organisation. Importantly, this has been achieved whilst also delivering accelerated commercial performance. Drayton have continued to support the business with the appointment of further senior management hires, including an Operations Director poached from Hovis.