The Bonduelle Group's Distribution Strategy: Adding a Branded Retail Store?

The Bonduelle Group's Distribution Strategy: Adding a Branded Retail Store?

Véronique Boulocher-Passet, Randall D. Harris, Sabine Ruaud
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1630-0.ch007
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This case study discusses the distribution strategy of the Bonduelle Group and the ability to and value of becoming a retail brand for the world's leading producer and supplier of ready-to-eat processed vegetables. In 2010, the family business opened its first flagship store named ‘Bonduelle Bienvenue'. It was entirely dedicated to processed vegetables and offering a big range in the same selling space. The objective of this prototype was not to substitute the company's existing distribution network, or even to hinder it, but to complement it by providing brand visibility and enabling an increase in Bonduelle Group's market share within households. Introducing the reader to the company, the first steps of the concept store back in 2012, and the following other D2C initiatives of the group, this case aims to address the advantages and drawbacks for a food processing brand to engage in selling directly to end consumers.
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Organization Background1

A family business founded in 1853 by two friends, Louis-Antoine Bonduelle-Dalle and Louis Lesaffre-Roussel, the Bonduelle Group rose in recent decades to become one of the world’s largest processed vegetable companies, the global market leader in ready-to-use vegetables.

Through its business, directly linked with the agriculture sector, through its products, a natural basis for nutrition, and through its ethics, built over generations on a foundation of essential values, the Bonduelle Group had always placed particular importance on sustainable development. Figure 1 shows the logo.

Figure 1.

Bonduelle logo


For the 2019-2020 financial year2, the Bonduelle Group reported a revenue of ca. €2.9 billion (see Figure 2) and a total growth of 2.8% and expected a revenue of €3.5 billion by 2025.

Figure 2.

Bonduelle Group’s consolidated revenue in million euros, years ending 30/06

Source: compiled by the authors, based upon from Bonduelle Group registration documents

Emphasizing innovation and long-term vision, the company had diversified through both its businesses and geographic locations:

  • Diversification via businesses: Bonduelle was established as a brand name in 1947. Operations expanded noticeably for the company in 1963 with the construction of a factory in Estrées-Mons, France. This plant, located in the northern Picardy region, would become the largest canning plant in the world. In 1968, Bonduelle entered the frozen vegetables business. In 1989, the Group acquired its main competitor at the time, Cassegrain, and then in 1997 entered the “freshly processed” vegetable business with the acquisition of Salade Minute and its four factories. This acquisition made Bonduelle the European leader in that sector. The company had an initial public offering of stock on the Secondary Stock Market in Paris in 1998, with the family retaining 52% of shares. The subsidiary Bonduelle Traiteur was created in 2003 after the acquisition of the Breton-based company Michel Caugant, specialists in delicatessen vegetable products. Finally, in 2010, Bonduelle had acquired France Champignon, the European leader in mushroom production, making mushrooms the second most popular vegetable in the Bonduelle portfolio after sweet corn.

  • Diversification via geographies: The Bonduelle Group was mainly located in Western Europe, where it expanded early with the opening of the European Common Market in 1968. Bonduelle Germany was created in 1969, Bonduelle Italy in 1972 and Bonduelle Great Britain in 1973. The company achieved 50% of its sales from exports as early as 1973. Bonduelle Netherlands was created later in 1982, Bonduelle Spain in 1986, Bonduelle Portugal in 1988, and Bonduelle Denmark in 1989. Bonduelle had also gradually expanded its presence to markets with high growth potential such as Central and Eastern Europe (via the creation of Bonduelle Ceská Republika in 1991, Bonduelle Polska and Bonduelle Hungaria in 1992, Bonduelle Russia and Bonduelle Slovensko in 1994) or South America (via the creation of Bonduelle do Brasil in 1994, with opening of a production site there in 2010, and via the creation of Bonduelle Argentina in 1996). More recently, the group had consolidated its position in North America by acquiring in 2007 Aliments Carrière, the leading Canadian canned and frozen vegetables producer with its brand Arctic Gardens, enabling the group to gain access to 39.500 hectares of farmland. It had acquired four more factories (three processing plants and a packaging plant for frozen vegetables) from Allens Inc. in the USA in spring 2012. In 2015, The Bonduelle group strengthened its position in North America by acquiring the Lethbridge plant in Alberta. The strategic move secured a production capacity of 15,000 tonnes just 100 kilometres from the border between Canada and the United States.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Distribution Channel: Distribution channel is a route/method by which companies deliver products and services to customers and end users. It can be direct or indirect depending on the number of through which a good or service passes until it reaches the final buyer or the end consumer.

Bonduelle Group: French family-run company in the agri-food industry, world-leader in ready-to-use processed vegetables.

Distribution Strategy: The process and different channels used to make an organization’s products and services available to target customers.

Disintermediation: Reduction in the use of intermediaries between producers and consumers.

D2C (Direct-to-Consumer or Direct2Consumer): Type of Business-to-Consumer retail sales strategy where a business will sell a product directly to the customer. Selling D2C streamlines the distribution process by avoiding any middlemen (such as third-party retailers and distribution partners).

Family Business: A business that is owned or run by members of a single family.

Channel Conflict: Any dispute, difference or discord arising between two or more channel partners, where one partner’s activities or operations affect the business of the other channel partner.

Plant-Based Food: Food derived from plants (including vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and fruits) with no animal-source foods or artificial ingredients.

Processed Vegetables: Vegetables that are preserved using different processes like canning, freezing, packing, or seasoning.

Branded Retail: Branded stores used by one manufacturer to distribute their products directly to consumers (include brick-and-mortar stores, flagship stores, pop-up stores and online stores).

Bonduelle Bienvenue: Brand Name of the Bonduelle Group’s Flagship Store.

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