Toler unveils Hostess Bake Shop brand for in-store

by Josh Sosland
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Hostess Bake Shop CupCake Cookies
The Hostess Cupcake cookie is a version of the Superior black and white cookie with the Hostess squiggle.

KANSAS CITY Offering greater visibility into the company’s plans for the in-store bakery (I.S.B) market, William D. Toler, president and chief executive officer of Hostess Brands, Inc., on March 14 announced the launch of the Hostess Bake Shop for the I.S.B. category.

Mr. Toler introduced the brand in a call with investment analysts in connection with the company’s 2016 financial results (see related story).

The potential for Hostess in the I.S.B. category has been highlighted by Hostess executives on numerous occasions since the company acquired Superior Cake Products in June 2016. Still, details of how Hostess would build out the relatively modest Stockbridge, Mass.-based business had been scant.

William Toler, Hostess
William D. Toler, president and c.e.o. of Hostess

“The (I.S.B.) category is currently growing around 4% annually, which last year was faster than the center-of-the-store, sweet baked goods category,” Mr. Toler said. “Superior’s product line includes eclairs, black and white cookies, madeleines brownie bites, and creampuffs, all new products to Hostess. We plan to leverage our distribution model and resources so this primarily northeastern-centric company can be rolled out across the country in conjunction with our launch of the new Hostess Bake Shop line into the in-store bakery.”

In addition to introducing a Hostess Cupcake cookie, a version of the Superior black and white cookie with the Hostess squiggle, Mr. Toler said the Hostess Bake Shop line will feature triple-dipped Ding Dongs and decorated Twinkies.

Hostess Bake Shop Triple Fudge Ding Dongs
The Hostess Bake Shop will include triple fudge-dipped Ding Dongs.

Asked by an investment analyst to quantify the potential on the initiative, Mr. Toler said it was too early to say much.

“The Hostess Bake Shop is literally just starting,” he said. “Literally. I think our first shipments on the cupcake cookie were in late February, early March. It’s not material in any of the financials, but we are starting to get some exposure in the marketplace, which is good. That’s important for the future.”

The chance for Hostess to sell beyond its traditional center-of-the-store home in supermarkets is among the reasons Mr. Toler said the company’s hopes for Hostess Bake Shop are so high.

Hostess Bake Shop Decorated Twinkies
Hostess Bake Shop Decorated Twinkies feature rainbow sprinkles and white fudge drizzle.
 
He said, “We think of it like this -- that Hostess from the consumer perspective has the permission to win and the right to play in sweet baked goods categories all around the store. Whether they are in our traditional fresh aisle we are in, whether it’s in the in-store bakery, whether it might be in frozen.  The Hostess brand certainly has the shoulders and has the strength to play in all those areas. In-store bakery, again, being larger than our packaged products also growing faster than our packaged products gives us a great place to take that Hostess brand and also potentially make products on our assets that we could take over there under the Superior brand or under other brands. So, it really gives us that leverage about where the brand can go in the store where consumers expect and want to see Hostess and where they give us the permission to win. In-store bakery is right at the top of that list.” 
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