See’s CEO talks about nostalgia, e-commerce and that Nuts & Chews assortment

CEO Pat Egan joined See’s Candies just a few years in the past, in 2018, however he brings to the job a lifetime of expertise as a See’s buyer. As such, he doesn’t take his place as keeper of the Mary See’s flame evenly, particularly because the Bay Space-based firm marks its one centesimal yr. We requested him about every part from the nostalgia issue to COVID-19 challenges to sweet preferences. Right here’s an edited model of that dialogue:

Q: How lengthy have you ever been consuming See’s Candies?

A: I’ve been a See’s fan for so long as I can bear in mind. I used to be born in San Francisco and grew up in San Mateo, so our Hillsdale Mall location was my house retailer as a child.

I’ve all the time had a candy tooth, and I’ve all the time had a fairly essential eye for high quality. Once I began working for a Berkshire Hathaway firm over 15 years in the past, you’re feeling a satisfaction in being related to such an iconic and beloved model.  And once I had the chance three years in the past to come back help our centennial and put together for the following century, I couldn’t move it up.

What I’d add is that I’ve discovered a lot since I’ve been right here. The typical tenure of our year-round staff is nearly twenty years — common! I’ve grown to admire our individuals and the method we use to make and ship the perfect sweet on the planet.

See’s shops, like this one in Los Gatos, retain the retailer’s signature black-and-white checkerboard ground. Above, supervisor Barbara Sancen palms a pattern to Nicole Meyers on the 2015 grand opening. (George Sakkestad/Bay Space Information Group archives) 

Q: How has the nostalgic feel and look of See’s labored to your benefit? Few firms dare to take care of that for even a number of a long time, a lot much less so long as See’s has.

A: Our retailers are impressed by Mary See’s precise kitchen in Pasadena. Once you step into one among our retailers, it’s virtually like time travelling again to 1921. Most recognizable is our iconic black-and-white checkerboard ground. The See’s uniform that our store associates put on has additionally stayed virtually similar to our first uniforms from 100 years in the past.

We’ve made a number of fashionable touches however have stayed true to our roots. I believe our clients love the concept they’re having the identical expertise as their grandparents and great-grandparents had when buying at See’s.

Q: What’s remained the identical, product-wise, over the previous century?

A: We really nonetheless use most of the similar substances — most of them from California suppliers and growers and all of them with no added preservatives. We nonetheless use a lot of Mary’s unique recipes.

See’s showcases California chocolate, butter and nuts in its candies. (Ron Lewis/Bay Space Information Group archives) 

Q: What sort of modifications are you making to face the present challenges?

A: The most important present change is the huge development in house deliveries and discovering methods to fulfill that buyer demand. We launched DoorDash final yr, in addition to Click on, Choose & Go, which permits clients to order on-line and are available to a retailer to choose up. I would like our e-commerce buyer expertise to be higher than any common expertise in the identical approach our retail retailers are superior.

Q: You’re nonetheless opening new brick-and-mortar retailers. What’s your technique?

A: We discover the in-shop expertise is invaluable to our clients. I really don’t purchase that retail is on its approach out.  What’s out is stale and impersonal retail. We’ve clients who are available each week for a field of their favorites – curating their customized combine with a store affiliate they’ve recognized for many years. Our in-store expertise is one thing our clients search, and we’re going to proceed to ensure that is the case.

Q: What goes into the choices so as to add or drop candies from the lineup?

A: We take a look at introducing new items the identical approach we take a look at opening a retailer. After we commit, we wish it to achieve success and to by no means have to show again.  I don’t know that we’ve ever had a failed piece, however the fact is that there’s solely a lot actual property in our retailers, and solely a lot capability in our factories

On the finish of the day, it’s actually all about what our clients need and what we hear from them. We take our clients’ suggestions significantly — a lot in order that we requested them what our November Restricted Time Candy ought to be and we narrowed it all the way down to: Cheesecake Truffle, Espresso Scotchmallow, Cranberry Truffle and Neapolitan Cream. Keep tuned to search out out which piece will go into manufacturing.

See’s Chocolate Espresso Beans — with beans roasted by Peet’s — are a private favourite of CEO Pat Egan. (Picture courtesy of See’s Candies) 

Q: The Marshmint made a seasonal comeback. Have you ever introduced again different discontinued alternatives?

A: We’ve! Once I consider one thing being introduced again by widespread demand, Almond Sq. involves thoughts instantly. I had by no means learn a lot buyer suggestions. Now it’s again completely — the individuals have spoken! Different items introduced again embody Darkish Pecan Buds, Double Caramel and Darkish California Brittle.

Q: Individuals both love or detest the Nuts & Chews assortment. What are your ideas?

A: One of many many issues that makes See’s so nice, is that there’s actually one thing for everybody. In the event you don’t like nuts, then our Basic Assortment and even Delicate Facilities could be the proper field for you. That mentioned, Nuts & Chews is nearly all the time the highest vendor amongst our common 1-pound choices.

Q: What’s your favourite piece?

A: That’s like choosing a favourite little one! My favorites have a tendency to vary however one for some time has been our Kona Mocha after which not too long ago, our Chocolate Espresso Beans in partnership with Peet’s Espresso and Guittard Chocolate. I like our coffee-flavored candies. But when I needed to decide only one, it could be the Darkish Chocolate Peanut Butter Coronary heart as a result of it was the primary piece I had a hand in making right here.

Among the many See’s particular releases this yr is a Centennial Assortment. (Paul Bersebach, Orange County Register/SCNG) 

Q: A century from now, will the retailers nonetheless be a nostalgic black-and-white and can clients nonetheless get a free pattern with their buy?

A: What an amazing query. Brief reply is, sure and sure. In all honesty, what has made See’s thrive for 100 years is the care we take for our clients each time they enter our retailers. We’re proud that our clients are reminded of the sensation they’d coming in once they have been little and after going buying with mother and pop, they’d come into See’s for a free pattern and a smile. It’s what makes See’s, See’s.

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