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Lancaster Graduate's dream biscuit job

02/08/2002 10:55:54

Lancaster graduate Tony Camp has got a dream job. As Marketing director at Burton's Foods he has to encourage people to eat Jammie Dodgers.

The biscuit market is one of the most competitive in the retail arena. The rapid changes in the market have also meant changes for Tony. Until three years ago he was UK and international marketing director of Horizon - the biscuit arm of Hilksdown Holdings which was bought by US Venture capitalists Hicks, Muse, Tate and Furst in 1998.

At the same time Associated British Foods decided biscuits were no longer part of its core business and sold Burton's to the same venture capitalists. The merger saw strong brand names come under one roof - Cadbury Fingers and Maryland from Horizon and Jammie Dodgers and Wagon Wheels from Burton's.

Tony's background is in productions and instead of the normal run of business and marketing degrees he studies History at Lancaster.

"This was the first time I had lived in the north of England and what particularly impressed me about the north was that the people were friendly and the beer was great."

After graduating he wrote to a number of FMCG companies. " Also after three years in Lancaster, I didn't want to go back to London". He landed a job with Cadbury's as a graduate trainee in production management.

"On my first day I arrived at work in Moreton on the Wirral with my history degree under my arm to find myself facing 80 Scouse women.

"I had two options - either to take the bull by the horns and impress my character on them, which would have been a recipe for certain death, or get them to treat me like a long lost son - of course that was the option I took.

"I think that was the best experience I've ever had, I learned a lot of management skills out of being with them."

After launching products such as Cadbury's Highlights and Typhoo QT he worked in Paris, where he noticed a north/south divide in how people view food.

"In Latin countries people live to eat and savour the flavour of their food, while in the northern countries its much more about eating to live and filling your stomach. It's even reflected in the types of biscuits they prefer. The Brits like their biscuits big so it's difficult to launch delicate products here in the UK where eat 12kg of biscuits per head per year - France they eat half that."

In 1998 he came back home to the job of UK and International marketing director at Horizon and he is lucky that even if he takes his work home with him the children are unlikely to mind. Sophie aged nine, Maddie who's six and three-year-old Marcus are all willing guinea pigs.