Purity to reboot biscuit division
Consolidated Bakeries Jamaica Limited, which trades as Purity Bakery, is looking next to reshape its biscuit division, as the company reorganises to reclaim and grow market share.
Jobs have both been lost and added, leaving Purity with a workforce of over 100, said Executive Chairman Anthony Chang, who cited the expenses related to the restructuring and adjustments to the company’s distribution channels as the reasons for the $13 million of losses recorded in the second quarter ending June.
“The company is 65 years, and it was necessary for us to reorganise the business. Last quarter we started that,” said Chang, adding that most of the costs were related to personnel.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, Purity has found that the buying pattern of consumers of baked goods has been shifting towards getting more value from every dollar spent — referred to as the ‘stretch the dollar’ shopper.
That has given rise to more persons seeking out bargains in wholesale establishments and corner shops, and shifting away from supermarkets, Chang said. Additionally, the reduced operating hours for supermarkets under the pandemic curfews has served to dampen Purity sales even further, he said.
“People are shopping differently now, and COVID-19 taught us a lesson that we have to be more robust in the number of touchpoints that we serve. In other words, we no longer want to be heavily dependent on one business channel,” Chang said.
Purity Bakery, producer of the Purity and Miss Birdie brands and a maker of breads, biscuits, buns and pastries, found a sweet spot with consumers when it released the Miss Birdie wheat crackers in 2015. But the biscuit brand has in recent times been receiving heavy competition from the reformulated Excelsior cream crackers and wheat crackers.
The changes to be made to the biscuit division are meant to reawaken consumer interest.
“We are still holding our own in the crackers market, but it’s not growing. This quarter we’ve had some help from exports and new products, but we have to reorganise the biscuit division because the sales are not where they ought to be,” said Chang, who became chairman of Purity towards the end of 2019, while still maintaining his role as CEO and managing director.
Business from the bread and bun division has held up, Chang said, but noted that the company wanted to become even more efficient to keep up with competitors such as National Bakery and Honey Bun.
Purity has beefed up its sales staff, but Chang declined to comment on the details of the biscuit division changes, citing competitive reasons.