Cash cow: Florian Mattinson, Müller Dairy (UK)
20 July 2009 | By Corinne McPartland
Florian Mattinson is more than just a lawyer - he helped make German dairy company Müller a household name in the UK. Corinne McPartland reports
When you think of Müller Dairy, the slogan ‘Lick the Lid of Life’ may well spring to mind. Or you may even start to hum Nina Simone’s catchy tune Ain’t Got No, I Got Life.
Back in 2006, Müller launched a hugely successful TV advertising campaign featuring people dancing along to Simone’s song while eating Müller yoghurts. A simple idea, but one that catapulted the brand into the hearts and minds of the British public.
A couple of years later the company released a new advertisement focusing on its Shropshire-based factory. It still featured Simone’s popular tune but this time it emphasised the closeness of supply from the surrounding area to its factory in Market Drayton.
But contrary to what the ad suggests, Müller is actually a German-based dairy company that only launched in the UK in 1988.
Ever since its introduction to the UK Müller has adopted a truly British image, reinforced in 1991 when it opened the new £30m factory in rural Shropshire, now known as the ‘Home of Müller’.
Since joining the company more than 11 years ago, Müller company secretary and legal director Florian Mattinson has spent a great deal of time working with the marketing and sales departments to strengthen the brand in the UK.
“A lot of the the legal team’s work involves working with the marketing team to support the many advertising and on-pack promotional compaigns the business has. We have to make sure everything is compliant from a legal and regulatory perspective,” Mattinson says.
Along with the big campaigns, Müller also uses on-pack promotions to make its products stand out on the shelves.
But marketing issues have not always been top of Mattinson’s agenda. When he started at Müller he was put in charge of creating a brand-new legal department for the UK and Ireland.
“The legal function had to serve every element of the business,” Mattinson says. “I’ve made sure that we have a very lean but talented team so that we can add as much value as possible to the business.”
Mattinson heads a team of five, which includes only two qualified solicitors. The remainder is made up of legal executives and support staff.
Despite the relatively thin legal department, Mattinson manages to keep most work in-house. The team works on a range of issues including IP protection, food regulation and labelling, as well as distribution agreements and land and lease procurements.
It is this variety that adds extra spice to his job, Mattinson says.
“I love the fact that there’s never a dull moment in this business,” he claims. “There’s always something new. In smaller legal teams you have to be prepared to turn your hand to anything and it actually makes you a master of quite a lot.”
But do not be fooled into thinking Mattinson and his team spend most of their time cooped up in a stuffy office. Mattinson is a great believer in having a legal team that understands how the business is run at every level.
“You’ve got to understand that being an in-house lawyer is not just about practising one area of law and that’s it,” he says. “You have to understand what the commercial interests of the business are as well as the client needs.”
To make sure his department does not lose sight of how the Müller brand gets out of the fields and on to the supermarket shelves, Mattinson encourages his team to spend time working on the factory’s production floor.
“Müller’s approach has always been, ‘you’ll only get back what you put in’,” he says. “So I think it’s important for the legal team to approach their jobs in the same way, and if putting on our white coats and boots is what’s needed, thenso be it.”
Name: Florian Mattinson
Organisation: Müller Dairy (UK), part of the Müller Group based in Bavaria, Germany
Industry: Fast-moving consumer goods production
Position: Company secretary and legal director
Reporting to: Müller Group general counsel in Germany Dr Thomas Bachofer
Company turnover: £467m
Number of employees: 800
Legal capability: Five in UK
Main external law firms: DWF, Hammonds, Pinsent Masons
Total legal spend: Less than £100,000
Florian Mattinson’s CV
1997-84: Berkhamsted School
1985-88: LLB (Hons), King’s College London
1988-89: College Of Law, London
Taylor Joynson Garrett
1991-94: Trainee/solicitor, Jackson Parton
1994-96: In-house solicitor, Hubertus Clausius
1998-present: Company secretary and legal counsel, Müller Dairy (UK)