Golden Wonder halts ads as administrators are called in

Golden Wonder’s marketing team is facing an uncertain future after the company was placed in administration earlier this week.

The team, which is headed by marketing controller Loretta MacFarlane, is waiting to hear its fate as the administrators attempt to sell off the company or its brands.

MacFarlane, its fourth top marketer in as many years, only took over the at the end of last year after the departure of Rob Morgan (MW December 1, 2005). Advertising, worth &£1.3m and handled by JWT and Starcom, has been suspended.

Golden Wonder has been on a slippery slope since it sold flagship brand Pot Noodle to venture capitalist CPC in 1995 and Wotsits to arch rival Walkers, according to some observers, who say administrator Kroll may struggle to find many takers.

Analysts believe PepsiCo-owned Walkers’ marketing might, typified by its long-running TV campaign featuring Gary Lineker, has also been the crunch factor for Golden Wonder.

David Lang, an analyst at Investec, says: “In the crisps mass market you are either Walkers or you are nothing. It managed brilliantly to roll out across the television regions, and roll over its competitors.”

Observers say the heyday of Golden Wonder followed a 1995 management buyout from Dalgety for &£56.4m. But subsequent takeovers by Bridgepoint Capital in 2000 and The Snack Factory in 2002 heralded a period of instability. In 2004, it lost &£10.8m on a turnover of &£87.8m.

While few attribute Golden Wonder’s problems to a drop in sales during the ongoing obesity debate, the quality of the product was always an issue.

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