Is This The End of Green and Blacks?
Has the death knell sounded for Green & Blacks as the Kraft takeover may see it move away from promoting the brand and leaving it to languish before killing it off? Is Green & Blacks the first casualty of the Kraft takeover? Today Twitter has been buzzing about the possibility that we may be seeing the beginning of the end for a loved fair trade British brand.
What about a management buyout, you might ask. Craig Sams, the founder of Green & Black’s, told The Independent (a UK newspaper), “I would love to take [Green & Black’s] back and I know a number inside would also.” He added, “I don’t think Kraft want to sell. I’m not telepathic but the indications are that they want to hang on to Green & Black’s.” This effectively kills off any possibility for Green & Blacks to leave Kraft. Trevor Bond, who heads Kraft Foods’ country business in Europe, said, “Green & Black’s is £40m out of a £1bn chocolate business [in the UK]. I would sell more Creme Eggs.”
What happened to change Green and Blacks from the darling in the portfolio to the black sheep? The FT reports that “growth has decelerated sharply from the annual levels of about 70 per cent in 2005” although they have already rejected attempts for the brand to extricate itself. Rumours of a possible Management Buy Out (MBO) by G&B bosses first surfaced back in the summer, when Cadbury’s chief strategy officer, Mark Reckitt, quit Cadbury as part of the executive brain-drain in the wake of the Kraft takeover. Reckitt promptly joined G&B on a consultancy basis, working for them one day a week.
I wouldn’t because in killing off a loved high-street brand that fought its way there through education and an ethical stance is a sure way to see more protests over the use of palm oil in their chocolate among other things. Green & Blacks produces products from chocolate bars to ice cream and cookies. Its diversified portfolio goes beyond chocolate but what it brings to any business is *ethical validity*.
One reason *I* think Kraft may want to keep Green and Blacks is to bolster its street cred with the ethical shopper. By associating itself with such a well-loved, trusted, strongly ethical brand as G&B, Kraft are trying to position themselves as champions of ethical chocolate production. Despite being part of Cadbury’s G&B continued getting beans from their own suppliers and Cadbury’s used Green & Blacks to help them transition to a certain extent to their current fair trade chocolate by lending credibility to the move.
As I eat another caramel button from what may be the last bag I am able to buy made in the UK, and may be the last bag I buy as a result, I wonder whether Kraft realised that it was harming its image and that “selling more crème eggs” was never going to fix the damage they did. Body Shop was big and strong enough to help L’Oreal but they also didn’t lie during the takeover.
I can’t imagine a Cadbury/Kraft PR will read this, nor do I think they’ll care as I am not the FT, The Times or the Independent but let’s send a message to Kraft. Leave a comment about what you love about Green & Blacks and show them that the love for that brand is stronger than they can imagine. Also “like” Green & Blacks on Facebook and follow them on twitter. LET’S SHOW THEM WE CARE!