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Genius targets in-store bakeries for French expansion

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By Kacey Culliney+

Last updated on 24-Jul-2014 at 18:10 GMT

Genius CEO: 'Until now, the French celiac consumer has not had much choice in the mainstream bakery aisle'
Genius CEO: 'Until now, the French celiac consumer has not had much choice in the mainstream bakery aisle'

UK gluten-free major Genius has rolled products in French in-store bakeries – a move it says should normalize gluten-free for consumers.

Genius has secured listings in six retail chains – Carrefour, Casino, Auchan, Cora, Leclerc and Monoprix – across more than 200 stores.

Speaking to about the move, Genius CEO Roz Cuschieri said the company was breaking ground for gluten-free in France.

“Although long-life gluten-free bread is well represented in dietary fixtures in France, we are undertaking something new as the first mainstream gluten-free brand with a presence in the in-store bakery,” she said.

The move came at a time when French retailers were just starting to harness the true potential of gluten-free, she said.

“Until now, the French celiac consumer has not had much choice in the mainstream bakery aisle, but we are looking to change this and give them a normalized shopping experience.”

The in-store bakery section of French retailers was a “key section” for shoppers, she said, and so presented a “great opportunity”. Being present in this section gave Genius a competitive edge, she said.

Genius developed a gluten-free brioche following focus group research in France

Cross-contamination risk

Genius had developed a packaged brioche specifically for the French market, but had also introduced regular bread and muffin products.

Asked if Genius had put in place suitable measures to avoid cross-contamination in the in-store bakery area, Cuschieri said this was an area the company had put a lot of work into.

“We’ve developed a retail staff training program to educate in-store bakery staff on safe storage, handling and merchandizing procedures. It’s important to ensure our partners feel confident handling gluten-free products and understand the impact cross-contamination has for those with celiac disease or allergies,” she said.

Genius would continue to work closely with French retailers on this training – it was about education and communication, she said.

The company was supplying French retailers via its distributor Lightbody and Cuschieri said there were no plans to manufacture in France for the time being. “Our Intellectual Property is very important to us, as it is integral to quality and consistency. What’s more, our facilities in the UK are top-class. We therefore do not have plans to move anything from the UK.”

Is France ready for a gluten-free boom?

Genius’ international commercial director David Shaw previously told this site that Europe was a key target for growth in the company’s global expansion plan .

Cuschieri said France was extremely promising within Europe because of its sizeable bakery sector.

Citing figures from a Markets and Markets 2013 report, she said Europe’s gluten-free sector was pegged at about $1bn in 2012, with France representing around 14.1% of that.

Genius was already present in Spain and the UK, and the Cuschieri said she was confident the brand would succeed in France. “The economic climate is healthier in France [compared to Spain] and retailer support is also excellent.”

The company had made considerable marketing commitments to underpin the launch into France, including in-store sampling, price promotions and social media activity. Genius had also teamed up with France’s celiac association Association Française Des Intolérants Au Gluten (AFDIAG).

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