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DAIRY PRODUCTS

SA’s Sally Williams Fine Foods to launch ice cream & foray into retail
Friday, 12 May, 2017, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Johannesburg
After almost two decades of carving out a reputation as a manufacturer and distributor of honey nougat, South Africa’s Sally Williams Fine Foods is on expansion mode, with plans to launch Sally Williams Ice Cream and foray into the retail sector. The award-winning company’s plans have come to fruition after two years.

Mark Sack, managing director, Sally Williams Fine Foods, said that the company also offered Belgian chocolate-enrobed nougat and a range of Turkish Delight products. He invested in the company in 1999, two years after its inception, securing a 50 per cent ownership when it was still a small business.

“Sally Williams is the second job I have ever had. I started my first business whilst studying at university. I imported consumer electronics and wholesaled it across the country. I then came across this fledgling business started by my (now ex-)mother-in-law,” Sack added.

“At that point, I bought half the business, before buying the remainder over the next couple of years,” he said. Sally Williams has enjoyed a great deal of success for the past decade-and-a-half, and has offices in the United Kingdom and the United States. It currently exports to over 23 countries.

A couple of years ago in the search for growth, Sally Williams began investigating the ice cream sector, and 2017 will see a huge push into the market.

“We have been planning and developing a range of ice cream that will differ from what is currently on offer in the marketplace. All our ice cream is made from scratch using our nougat and Turkish Delight as inclusions,” Sack said.

“It has taken nearly two years to perfect this product range with us setting up an ice cream manufacturing plant close to our existing nougat manufacturing facility,” he added.

In March 2017, the company forayed into retail with its first Sally Williams concept store, selling the new ice cream and the company’s full range of products inNelson Mandela Square in Sandton, Johannesburg.

“Based on the phenomenal response, we are in the planning stages for a number of these stores both around the country and in select foreign destinations,” said Sack, whose vision will be an inspiration to anyone looking to find opportunities in the current market, which has changed, but can still be enormously lucrative.
 
He added, “We realised a very long time ago that Sally Williams, in essence, operates two businesses. One would be the manufacturing facilities and the other would be the sales, marketing and distribution arm. This allows us exceptionally tight control over both the quality and the value chain with the ability to affect change much faster than a contract manufacturer would be able to achieve.”

Sack admitted that the future presents challenges for everyone in the food sector, but finding a way through will help businesses become better and the consumer will benefit.

“Currently the South African economy is struggling with the man on the street feeling more beleaguered than ever before,” he said, adding “As a well-recognised brand, this means we need to be more fleet of foot than ever before, ensuring a regular supply of product on the shelf, priced fairly and packaged beautifully.”

“Unfortunately, it appears that in times such as these, the large retailers are better able to deal with the economic slowdown whilst the smaller mom-and -pop retailers are finding it hard to make a go of it,” Sack stated.

He added that that has brought pressure from the big retailers who ask more of suppliers. “The larger retailers have become increasingly more demanding over the years, creating the impetus for us to up our game as well. There appears to be a strong drive towards established brands with the consumer spurning unheard of brands and going with the brands they trust and enjoy,” Sack said.

For the foreseeable future, he believed that there was little prospect of change. He added, “This will almost certainly create a very challenging retail environment in which the brands that offer value and consistency will survive, whilst those that cut corners will almost certainly disappear with time.”

“The opportunity for Sally Williams is to continue doing what we believe we do well, further entrenching our brand in the consumers mind, whilst continually looking to innovate, create and achieve more. FromSally Williams’ perspective, we will continue to defend and fight for a greater market share with a big push in our export division,” Sack stated.

He is slated to be a guest panellist at the Food Forum 2017, which will take place at Africa’s Big 7 (AB7), the continent’s premier food and drink exhibition, which is slated to take place at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Johannesburg between June 25 and 27, 2017.

Sack will be one of the speakers at the day two session titled Utilising innovation to unlock growth: Translating consumer insights into tangible products to meet and influence market tastes. AB7 and The Food Forum are co-located with Saitex 2017, Africa’s largest product sourcing event, and The Hotel Show Africa 2017.
 
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