2 minutes of your time: Thomas Pook

Thomas Pook

It has been an interesting time for the bread category in Scotland over the last year. SLR catches up with Hovis Wholesale & Convenience National Account Manager Thomas Pook to find out more.


Thomas’ career started over 20 years ago in Safeway before he moved into field sales roles for British American Tobacco, McBride Cleaning Products, Johnson & Johnson, Colgate Palmolive & Coca-Cola Enterprises. He then moved into Key Account management at Clearly Drinks before joining Hovis.

His current role is National Account Manager Wholesale/Convenience for Hovis and he has been with them since July 2020.

How is the bread and bakery category performing in Scotland at the moment?

Overall Scotland has a decline in sales of pre-packaged bread (-1.9%), but this fall is less sharp than across total GB (-3.0%). Pre-packaged white bread over-indexes in Scotland, but this over-trade has softened slightly in the latest year. Pre-packaged white bread, accounting for the largest proportion of sales, is down -2.9% in Scotland. Bread with bits is the star performer in Scotland +4.4. Similarly, the growth of half and half in Scotland is positive at +3.8.

In the medium-term (12 weeks to 14/08/21 vs 12 weeks to 15/08/20), Scotland shows a decline in total pre-packaged bread sales, but this is expected due to the recovery of Covid and lockdowns on a LFL basis.

In Other Bakery, Scotland has a very strong over-trade in plant bread rolls, this performance is driven by round bread rolls, continental breakfast and sandwich alternatives

How has the pandemic affected things?

The Covid-19 Pandemic has helped the Bread category and reinvigorated the sector. With consumers remaining at home over the last 18 months, it has created more in-home dining experiences for the traditional Breakfast/Lunch & Dinner where consumers have enjoyed bread and other bakery items for their meals. The Bakery category has also been supported by the good weather we have had recently, and therefore driven sales of BBQ and related products.

What are the biggest trends in bread and bakery that retailers need to be aware of?

Whilst White Bread continues to be the No.1 category in bread, it is overstocked by many. Bread with Bits is a growing sector and under-represented in Impulse. There is opportunity for both increased sales and margin for retailers in the Seeded and Bread with Bits segments, which attract more affluent consumers. Hovis Original Seed Sensations Seven Seeds 800g is the No.1 Seeded product within Impulse. Hovis Granary (medium) is No.3 and Hovis Granary (thick) is No.4. Whilst Brown/Wholemeal is in decline we have seen consumers switch to Half & Half style bread, like our Best of Both 750g.

How has Hovis reacted to the challenges and opportunities of the last 18 months?

We have worked with all our customers to ensure we continue to maintain a good supply chain of our products, using our national manufacturing footprint to ensure our core range is delivered with minimal disruption. We have even launched NPD during this pandemic which has been well received by both retailers and consumers.

How important is the convenience retailing sector to Hovis in Scotland?

Scotland is a very important region to us within convenience. The brand heritage of Mothers Pride Scottish Batch speaks for itself, so it’s great to support Scottish retailers with our range of both Hovis and Mothers Pride.

Tell us about any recent or upcoming NPD

This year Hovis has worked to continue on our core range recipes, maintaining our great taste, quality and shelf life. In February 2021 we relaunched Hovis Best of Both with a new true half/half style recipe which has been well received by consumers and has seen our market share grow to be the No.1 brand within Impulse again in the Half & Half sector.

We have launched the 1886 range with our Brand Ambassador Tom Kerridge, initally with two 450g Cob loaves and a 4-pk Premium Burger Bun.

What advice would you give to local retailers in Scotland to help them maximise bread and bakery sales?

The bread with bits category is an area to focus on for growth. 400g is also seeing a return as consumers now start back at work, they no longer need a larger loaf for the small/single family households. As we approach winter also now, don’t forget muffins are a great addition to the range and we offer a good quality English Muffin with Sourdough and a Cheddar Cheese Muffin.

All data NielsenIQ Scantrack, to w/e 14/08/21.