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The success of Bahlsen in France. Best in France Case Study December 2005 . By: Ms. Gounou Ehssane & Ms. Grassl Stephanie. I. History & Business II. Products & Clients III. Coming to France IV. Company values & French culture. V. Constraints in France VI. Adaptation to France

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the success of bahlsen in france

The success ofBahlsen in France

Best in France Case Study

December 2005

By: Ms. Gounou Ehssane & Ms. Grassl Stephanie

executive overview
I. History & Business

II. Products & Clients

III. Coming to France

IV. Company values & French culture

V. Constraints in France

VI. Adaptation to France

VII. Key success factors

VIII. Recommendations

Executive Overview
  • 1889:Hermann Bahlsen starts his own ‘biscuiterie’ in Germany

 Creation of new products & umbrella brands

  • 1960:First sales offices in France & Italy
  • 1994:Merger with ‘biscuits St Michel’
  • Bahlsen St Michel SAS
    • Two family companies
    • Through this acquisition the mother company Bahlsen extends its portfolio
bahlsen st michel 2005
Bahlsen St Michel 2005
  • Part of the group Bahlsen Germany
    • 3700 employees
    • 542 million euros of sales
    • Exports to more than 80 countries
    • Presence in Europe, North America & Asia
  • Bahlsen St Michel France:
    • 124 million euros of sales
    • 476 employees

 France is an important location (second headquarter)

  • Headquarter: Rueil Malmaison
  • St Michel: Production of St Michel cookies
  • Commercy: Production of patisserie

Distinction between brand St Michel and Bahlsen


Produced elsewhere

St Michel

Produced in France

  • Product lines are hardly being discontinued
    • innovated all the time in order to exploit the product

lines to maximum level.

  • Innovation:
    • Remarkable
    • Variation of tastes and forms
    • Adapt to new tastes of the consumers
  • Innovation product Bahlsen  Done in Europe France has little influence on them
  • Innovation of brand St Michel  Done in France
location choice
Location choice
  • Reason for location choice:
    • Resources
    • Capacity
    • Cost
  • But for the Brand St Michel the location choice was
  • different:
    • More historical than strategically
    • St Michel is a ‘specialité Française’
    • In France maximum production capacity
    • has been reached!
  • Distribution channels
  • There are two circuits:
    • GMS (grandes et moyennes surfaces) 80%
    • CHD (consommation hors domicile) 20%
  • Products sold in all big supermarkets  good reference
  • French customers know
    • 97% St Michel
    • 91% Bahlsen
  • Brands are perceived independent
  • Big change to transform St Michel into Bahlsen
    • But must that be the task?
  • Publicity more for Bahlsen then for St Michel

2 brands in one company

    • 2 different marketing departments
    • 2 different directors
    • 2 different teams
  • Positioning of products is different, because :
    • Different segments
    • Different price & consummation pattern
    • Different image
St Michel

Traditional (100 years)

Already loyal consumers

Family product

‘Specialité Française’




Younger people

why coming to france
Why coming to France
  • Bahlsen already exported to 74 countries in 1956
  • They wanted to open up the French market
  • 1960  Bahlsen in France
  • No fast penetration of the market
  • 1994  Acquisition of St Michel
  • Complementarity:

 Products ‘sucrés et salés’

 Direct contact with customer

company values i
Company values I
  • No real problems when Bahlsen came to France concerning the cultural values


  • Problems occurred when buying St.Michel.

 St.Michel had to change its point of view:

- Former company with small structure

    • Family business
    • Reporting
    • Acceptance of being in a big company
    • Not only decision maker
    • Less autonomy
company values ii
Company values II
  • The key values are:
    • Quality
    • Informing the consumer
    • Health issues
    • Regular quality controls
  • Bahlsen succeeded because:
    • Business structure & culture
    • “Informal behavior”
    • Exchanges in R&D
      • This lead to an approach of the companies
      • but the transition took time
    • New ways of communication with headquarter
v constraints in france
V. Constraints in France
  • Not as many differences between Germany and France legal or fiscal  EU
  • Production cost
  • Only RH costs which may concern in the future
  • Differences concerning French labor law

- 35 hour work

- long-term constraints of firing personnel

vi adaptations undertaken
VI. Adaptations undertaken
  • No dramatic changes undertaken
  • European ‘culture’
  • Having to report
  • French working culture
  • International orientation:
    • No international recruiting (depends more on the individual profile)
    • Bahlsen France is more « French »
    • Former international trainee programs but too costly

 now there is only the reporting and the product exchange

adaptations undertaken
Adaptations undertaken
  • No much integration of French managers in the international organization.
  • Not many exchanges in the management:

it depends on the department, for ex. many engineers exchanges

Key constraint costs:

  • Higher RH costs
  • No real communication constraints
vii key success factors
VII. Key Success Factors
  • High quality of products due to many standards:
    • Strict selection of ingredients

 Instead: natural, healthy ingredients for products

    • Then there is the European regulations: certification IFS (international food standard) and ISO
  • Innovation
  • Big stabile market with stable and high sales
  • Central location in France
  • The high quality of life
  • The “savoir-faire“ & the tradition
  • Qualified labor market
  • Political stability
vii key success factors26
VII. Key Success factors
  • Informal culture ( Mr. Bahlsen)
  • Reporting  you feel protected because you belong to a big group


  • Future investments in Europe are not sure

 but at least feeling that Bahlsen is

attached to its employees

viii recommendations
VIII. Recommendations

Before coming to France:

  • Having right portfolio of products for that country
  • Being close to your customers
  • Good reference
  • EU
  • Motivation
  • Analyse before implementing

Adaptions while in France

  • Keep the spirit of ‘family company’
  • Innovation of products
  • Quality  ‘savoir-faire’
viii recommendations28
VIII. Recommendations
  • Choose right distribution channels  negotiation power
  • Acknowledge differences between certain brands and position them differently
  • Do not want to copy Bahslen Germany in France
  • Keep your own identity
  • Do not impose too much from the headquarters
  • Look at the needs of local customers

Future Investments

  • Economies of scale
  • Exchange in skills
  • Be careful with employees when making tough decisions
we thank
We Thank
  • Valerie Sajot,

Human Ressources Development

22-24, rue Victorien Sardou

92563 Rueil-Malmaison

Telephone: 01 56 84 85 05

  • Melanie Andre

Human Ressources

22-24, rue Victorien Sardou

92563 Rueil-Malmaison

Telephone: 01 56 84 85 15

  • Presentation Bahlsen France
  • The Global Challenge; Evans, Pucik, Barsouk
  • Questionnairy Best in France
our team
Our Team
  • Gounou Ehssane

- Current address:

K038, 1, rue de la Libération

78351 Jouy-en-Josas, France

- Permanent address:

Verdistraat 256, 5343VM Oss, The Netherlands

  • Grassl Stephanie

- Current address:

K040, 1, rue de la Libération

78351 Jouy-en-Josas, France

- Permanent address:

Esterbergstr.39, 81377 München, Germany