Independent crisp maker: Consumers fed up with profiteering big brands

By Annie-Rose Harrison-Dunn

- Last updated on GMT

Tags founder: "We want to actually develop a generational business."
Tags founder: "We want to actually develop a generational business."

Related tags Potato chip Lay's

Start-up UK chip maker Tags Tasty Crisps will succeed in a crowded market because its independence will appeal to despondent consumers, its CEO says.

Creator and former Seabrook Crisps managing director, John Tague, said that there is a gap in the market for his family-run brand.

"We get plenty of feedback from consumers on Facebook and Twitter… to basically tell us that they’re quite fed up with the big brands. There’s a market out there who sees the big brands as profiteering. I’m not sure that’s right and I’ve got no comment to make on that but they [the consumers] feel as if the bigger brands have taken the quality out of the product,” ​he told 

Keep to a story

The company runs with the help of every member of Tague’s family, with his wife and four children aged 14-26 years all taking an active role in some form, and he said that this forms the whole ethos of the business.

The key to success, he said, was a balance of consistency in ethos and reinvention. However, asked about the future for the company, he acknowledged that Tag would likely not be what is is now in five years. 

Despite this, he said, it is important for a company to keep hold of its core ethos. Discussing the recent Tyrrells buy out​ which saw the premium crisp brand once owned by potato farmer Will Chase sell to a Dubai-based luxury investment firm for £100m ($162m), Tague said: “Consumers don’t like that. Consumers like people to keep to the story they were initially driven on and what attracted them to the brand.”

In terms of Tags’ future he said: “Never say never but I’ll be really honest with you now with our business we want to actually develop a generational business.”

He said this was driven also by an understanding of how difficult it is for young people to get work in the current economic climate, and he hoped that the business would provide employment for future generations of his family.

Tague’s 26 year old son Patrick is currently working on the company's accounts from his home in Australia and is looking into the possibility of expanding there after the brand has been established in the UK.

Everyday premium crisps

Tague said the price of the packs will encourage consumers to treat themselves with the premium crisp brand on a regular basis, not just occasionally as may be the case with other more expensive brands.

“With our product what we’re trying to do is aim at the right price point that drives trust and loyalty with our consumers. No disrespect to the other brands but Tyrrells retails at £2.19 [$3.55], but you can buy them very regularly at a pound. So what does that tell a consumer?”​ he said.

The Tags snack is sold in 125g sharing bags for £1.39 ($2.25), 40g bags for £0.79 ($1.28) and multipacks of 25g bags. It is now selling its multipacks of salt and vinegar and cheese and onion crisps in British supermarket Tesco for £1.00 ($1.62) with a normal RRP of £1.49 ($2.41).

Tague said that the company is able to offer this retail price without compromising quality because of the relatively low overheads of an independently-run family business without stakeholders to consider.

However the start-up company is currently making “very minimal”​ profit, with most of the investment going into new product development packaging so far, he explained.

Business background

Tague worked as managing director for Seabrook Crisps up until 2011 and states on his Linkedin page that in less that four years he took the firm from an £11m ($17.82m) regional declining brand to a £29m ($46.9684m) national brand up against big players like PepsiCo with its Walkers brand. He has also worked in the entertainment and licensing industry with The Walt Disney Company.  

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