An operator's perspective, SSP UK on why chewing gum and mints are relevant to coffee shops, bakery and sandwich stores

Mar 13, 2017

SSP is one of the leading operators of food and beverage brands within the UK. As the food travel experts for over 60 years, they operate over 600 retail and catering outlets at 20 airports and 115 rail stations. In their portfolio are some of the best-known brands including M&S Simply Food, Starbucks and Burger King, as well as their own names such as Upper Crust, Caffé Ritazza and Millie’s Cookies.

We caught up with Fi Butcher, Trade Marketing Director at SSP UK and Michel Seal, Head of Coffee, Bakery & Franchise Brands to find out more about their experience of working with Wrigley.

1. How did the opportunity to sell chewing gum and mints come about?

Michal: We already had a strong relationship with Wrigley through our convenience brands, Whistlestop and Pumpkin. Wrigley presented us with a proposal on how chewing gum and mints have a relationship with food and drink and it went from there. It seemed like a natural fit to roll this out to our coffee and bakery brands.

2. What were your initial thoughts on the proposal? What was the relevance of these products to your business?

Fi: At the time we didn’t list any confectionery products in our coffee and bakery brands, so it presented a different way of doing business for us, challenging the status quo. Wrigley helped us recognise the highly impulsive nature of chewing gum and mints, which made it an ideal opportunity to help us drive incremental sales. 

Michal: The proposal was entirely targeted at the travel environment, single products for the ‘on-the-go’ customer, which demonstrated a clear opportunity for us.  

3. What were the main reasons that convinced you that the opportunity to sell chewing gum and mints was a good fit for the SSP business?

Fi: Customers who visit our stores are buying food or drink ‘on-the-go’ as they commute or travel. The single Wrigley pack formats were ideal to capitalise on this behaviour, our customers could simply ‘grab’ chewing gum or mints and ‘go’ as part of their overall purchase.

Michal: We were missing an opportunity to ‘refresh’ our customers that would also help us drive incremental sales. Addressing the ‘refresh’ need state, combined with the impulsive nature of chewing gum and mints, was the right solution to get our customers to spend more per visit. We were also aware that a number of our competitors were already selling these products too.

4. Which of your brands currently sell gum and mints and how long have you been working with Wrigley?

Fi: We’ve worked with Wrigley for a long time through our convenience brands, but it’s coming up to 3 years since we started working together on our coffee and bakery brands.

Michal: We currently sell Wrigley’s chewing gum and mints across a number of brands, including Whistlestop, Pumpkin, Upper Crust, Caffé Ritazza, Camden Food Co., Millies Cookies, Delice de France and the Pasty Shop.

5. Do you believe that offering gum and mints has improved your customer’s overall experience?

Fi: I think it took a while for our customers to get on-board with the change and get used to seeing chewing gum and mints at the till point in some of our brands. However, those customers that now buy into the category value the fact that can get a complete ‘on-the-go’ solution in one place, where they can round off their meal or coffee.

Michal: I agree, by improving the product choice that was on offer in a selective and considered way, I would definitely say it’s enhanced the overall experience for our customers.

6. Did you have any concerns that you needed to overcome?

Michal: Limited space was our key issue as many of our stores are so small and the till point can already be crowded.

Fi: We also had an initial concern around how we would communicate to our customers that these ‘new’ products were now available, however, Wrigley were able to support us with a strong in-store marketing plan.

7. Did you trial the products or go straight to a full roll-out?

Michal: It took about 3-4 months from when we first discussed the Wrigley proposal to executing a full roll-out. We were comfortable that the opportunity was going to be highly profitable and incremental so we didn’t feel the need to conduct a trial.

8. How were the products displayed/executed? Were there any operational barriers?

Fi: As Michal mentioned, space at the till point was, and always will be a challenge for us. We were also concerned about the look and feel of the existing Wrigley display units and how they would look in a premium, artisan coffee shop. Wrigley, however, demonstrated their expertise in this area by creating a range of bespoke solutions to suit our coffee and bakery brands using premium materials such as wood and metal. The new units strike the right balance between being impactful and also highly space efficient.

Michal: We’ve learnt that there are two crucial factors to achieving optimal sales. Firstly, ensuring that the products are visible and on display at the till point and secondly, that we offer a credible core range. Sometimes we also use POS as a visual ‘call to action’ to support the in-store execution.

9. What kind of results have you seen?

Michal: Chewing gum and mints have been totally incremental to our overall sales, which has been really pleasing. A few people had some slight concerns that chewing gum and mints would substitute sales from our other impulse categories but this hasn’t been the case at all.

Fi: Our sales have grown over the last couple of years across both our coffee and bakery brands. To give a specific example, chewing gum and mints now form part of 1.8% of our coffee transactions (Caffé Ritazza and Camden Food Co.), which has increased +0.7pp from 2014. The progress and momentum we’ve seen is all about generating awareness and normalising the perception of seeing these products on sale in our stores.

10. What are your best-selling SKUs?

Fi: In our coffee brands, EXTRA® Peppermint 10s and EXTRA® White 10s are the two best-selling SKUs, with EXTRA® White being the #1 selling SKU. There seems to be that intuitive link between the ‘White’ on-pack descriptor and our customers looking to keep their teeth clean after drinking coffee.

Michal: We have a wider range of products on sale in our bakery brands. EXTRA® Peppermint 10s, EXTRA® Spearmint 10s and EXTRA® White Bubblemint 10s all have good traction with our customer, the broader range allows us to offer our customers a choice between mint and fruit flavoured products.

11. Chewing gum and mints aren’t typically sold in coffee, bakery and sandwich shops, would you recommend it for other operators like yourselves?

Michal: Yes, absolutely. It’s a completely natural fit where the products can anchor to the core food and drink offerings. The sales are also truly incremental as they address a different need state in ‘refresh’. My one tip would be to keep the range tight and make it work hard.

12. Would you recommend working with Wrigley to other businesses?

Fi: Definitely, they are flexible and great at collaborating. They have a good understanding of the out-of-home market and they help with the analysis too.

Michal: I like the fact they are very flexible and proactive in terms of developing merchandising equipment. They are always willing to test and learn and find solutions that work for both parties.

Interested in working with Wrigley?

By working together, we can help you identify and address your customers’ primary needs, with the ultimate goal of driving your overall impulse sales. For more information, support and advice, contact


  • Wrigley is a recognised leader in confections, making a wide range of gum, mints and hard and chewy sweets that people love worldwide. From our headquarters in Chicago and operations in more than 40 countries, we distribute our world-famous brands, such as SKITTLES®, EXTRA®, STARBURST®, and AIRWAVES®, to over 180 countries across the globe.
  • Wrigley operates as a subsidiary of Mars Incorporated, a private, family-owned company which operates in six business segments: Chocolate, Petcare, Wrigley, Food, Drinks, and Symbioscience and generates global revenues of more than $30 billion annually.

Other Articles