Despite the sky-high ambitions after the takeover by South Korean conglomerate Lotte 13 years ago, praline maker Guylian seems to have stalled somewhat. The new CEO, Tom Snick, wants to start by breathing new life into the old-fashioned image.
Guylian has barely grown over the past decade. However, expectations were high when the founding family sold the company in 2008 to Lotte, a South Korean giant with an annual turnover of around 55 billion euros. At the time, it was said that under the wing of the conglomerate, the originally Belgian chocolatier, best known for its seafood-shaped chocolates, would be able to grow much better.
However, the company did not realise those grand ambitions. On the contrary, partly due to the Covid crisis, turnover fell to 75 million euros in 2019. At the time of the takeover, it was still 77 million euros. Taking inflation into account, the company has therefore suffered a setback.
Where did it go wrong? According to Tom Snick, the chocolate manufacturer's CEO since the beginning of this year, Guylian mainly suffers from an old-fashioned image. He, therefore, wants to modernise the brand and generate growth. The new CEO, who has a history as a marketer at companies such as Unilever, Spadel, Yakult and Barilla, is aiming for a turnover of 100 million euros by 2025. To achieve the projected turnover and profit targets, he has been given carte blanche by the South Korean owners.
Snick wants to focus on core products, mainly seafood-shaped chocolates, block chocolate bars and chocolate destined for airport stores. The number of SKUs was cut to 330, a reduction by half. "We were making too much, which weighed on our costs and logistics", he says in Belgian newspaper De Tijd.
The remaining products will get new packaging early next year. "We are going for a modern look because we are a few years behind. But it will not be a revolution".
Snick sees many growth opportunities for the brand in the stores. He wants to get the products into every European supermarket eventually. "Our seafood-shaped chocolates are an affordable luxury and fit perfectly between Ferrero Rocher and Lindt's Lindor chocolates."
The chief executive also sees a great future in online sales, although he closed Guylian's webshop. "If you want chocolate, you don't go to Guylian but Amazon or Delhaize", he says. The CEO does not believe in separate webshops for consumer goods manufacturers, unless they adopt a purely online model like Nespresso. "There are companies that have become very big with their e-commerce platform. We would be better off outsourcing our online sales to them."