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The Warsaw Voice » Other » May 28, 2008
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FERRERO: Sweet Taste of Success
May 28, 2008   
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Carlo Vassallo, General Manager Ferrero Poland & Area Director for Central Europe talks with Bożenna Osucha.

Ferrero Group, now a leading confectionery producer in Europe, started out as a family business in Italy. Tell us something about the company's beginnings.

Ferrero Group started out as a family business and remains the same today. In the early 1950s, the parents and uncle of Michele Ferrero-who together with his wife, Maria Franca and his sons, Pietro and Giovanni, are the current owners of the Group-opened a bakery and patisserie in Alba (Piedmont region). There they mixed local nuts with a small amount of cocoa and sugar (since availability was poor at that time) to produce sweet bars, which they sold in pieces in their shop and from a cart in the surrounding local markets. This idea turned out to be an unexpected success. In the difficult postwar years, Michele wanted his candy to be universally available and created Nutella, one of the best known brands in the food sector worldwide. In the 1960s, the family business moved into larger premises, the birthplace of Mon Cheri chocolates and Kinder Surprise, the predecessor of the Kinder chocolate range. The premises, which today house Ferrero's Research & Development center, are the Group's most important facility.

At the end of the 1960s, Michele, who at this time was single-handedly in charge of the newly born company, decided to create a range of products to suit the international market and began to research new frontiers, starting with Germany and then moving into the rest of northern Europe. I think that this aspect, in conjunction with a unique talent for the creation of new, innovative products, are the basis of the success of our Group, to whom the consumer continues to be the most important thing. This linking of innovation to consumer preferences is Michele's vision, which transformed Ferrero into one of the top three confectionery firms in the world.

When did Ferrero enter Poland?
Ferrero Polska started trading in 1992 and in the same year opened a packaging facility.

It was soon apparent that Poland could be a key market, and after a few years land was purchased in Belsk Duży near Grójec to build a factory that began production in 1997.

The Belsk factory is regarded as one of the group's most modern facilities. What can you tell us about the factory?
The factory is technologically advanced mainly thanks to rapid development in the last few years. The production increase, which has been fourfold since 2003 with regard to volume, is the result of increased sales of our products in the Polish market and exports after Poland joined the European Union. Currently, we export the Kinder line, Nutella and pralines from the Belsk factory to several European markets, as well as to other continents. We are proud of such an important step, which also serves as an impulse to improve and develop our operations in Poland.

Do Polish consumers' tastes differ from those of consumers in other countries?
Despite current globalization trends, without a doubt consumer tastes are not the same in every country, which results from tradition, habits and culture.

Ferrero has always placed great weight on consumer likes and preferences, which is why, in addition to our international brands, we tailor the offer to individual markets. This has also happened in Poland, where, thanks to the great care given to these aspects and important investments, we achieved the No. 2 position in the confectionery sector in 2007. We are also the only one among Poland's largest firms in the confectionery sector that has not acquired a Polish company in the sector.

Which brands are the most popular?
Before a decision is made for a product launch, we perform research and market tests. This is why generally we are very pleased with the sales of our brands in Poland. Some brands are outstanding in sales and are market leaders in their own categories such as Nutella; Tic Tac: the best known mint in Poland; Kinder Bueno; and Raffaello, which totally dominates the praline market. We are very proud of the success of our innovative chilled snacks-Kinder Milk Slice, Kinder Pingui and Kinder Maxi King.

What are Ferrero Polska's future plans?
Our main goals are consolidation of our brands and efforts to continue to foster the firm's permanence and stability. I think the latter is a basic requisite because it translates into security for our employees-currently numbering 2,000-and their families, and gives permanence to further development.

Furthermore, Ferrero Polska is currently well established in the collective Polish social consciousness, because the Company takes part in humanitarian and civil ventures, which I think are very important given the conditions in which we work and live every day.
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