Drinksummit, the annual beer, wines and spirits conference organised by the Federation of Wholesale Distributors, has gone from strength to strength since its launch in 1989 and is now seen as an agenda-setting event in the drinks calendar.
This year’s event at The Oxford Belfry on June 8 and 9 will maintain that tradition with a line-up of top speakers from leading wholesalers, suppliers and market analysts.
Drinksummit is the only event that brings together the supplier, the wholesaler and the independent retailer in the drinks market, and only Drinksummit could have proved the catalyst for the development of the Take Home Blueprint, which was launched at the conference in 1994.
The Blueprints, which now cover wines, spirits and fortified wines, alcoholic RTDs and of course beers, lagers and cider are now part of the culture of the wholesale and independent retail sectors. Being objective and impartial, and not based on any one company’s planograms, the Blueprints have increased profitability by guiding wholesalers and independent retailers into the discipline of stocking what the consumer wants.
Millions of pounds of stock cost, which were once a burden on the wholesaler and retailer who bought the wrong products, have been saved across the board. The Blueprints have also enabled brewers, cider makers, distillers and wine companies to reduce or discontinue failing or unsupported brands that were a millstone around their necks and those they supplied.
More evidence of the success of the Take Home Blueprint will be presented at this year’s Drinksummit by its director, Ross Shelley. In a presentation with John Shaw, sales manager of wholesalers Turner Wright, Shelley will demonstrate how the Blueprint team, in collaboration with wholesalers, has helped their customers sell more through their off licence section.
Another wholesaler which has worked closely with the Blueprint team is Costco, which organised a Take Home Blueprint forum for retailers at its Oldham depot, and no doubt Costco buyer Pierre Levron will refer to this successful event in his presentation to the conference.
A major supplier of premium bottled ales (PBAs), Hall Woodhouse, has also worked closely with the Blueprint team in developing guidance for this rapidly growing category. A presentation on this category will be given by senior NAM Lee Ellis and national sales manager Chris Milton of Hall Woodhouse.
Another fast growing category is cider and one of the companies leading that growth is Gaymer Cider Company. Managing director John Mills will be revealing what has given the company the confidence to invest pound;24m in the category and to launch a raft of new products.
Delegates will also hear about developments in the other drinks categories from Adrian McKeon, managing director of Beam UK, together with Nick Paget, sales director, wholesale and on trade for Beam Global Spirits Wine, and from Paul Downing, business unit director (RTM independent retail channel) at Diageo GB.
Insights into sales trends in the market, and into customer behaviour, will be provided by ACNielsen’s senior client manager Peter Reynolds, and Jonathan Rons, client director at HIM, respectively. ACNielsen’s take on the market has become a firm regular at Drinksummit, but this will be a debut for HIM.
Rons will be drawing on data from three of HIM’s customer surveys, the Convenience Tracking Programme (CTP), the Standalone Off Licence Tracking Programme (Soltrack), and the Cash and Carry Tracking Programme, to compare shoppers buying alcohol in convenience stores, standalone off licences and in cash and carries.
In addition to Pierre Levron and John Shaw, wholesalers will be heavily represented among the speakers with presentations by: Steve Roper, director of trading, alcohol and tobacco at Booker; Steve Mayes, trading controller wines, sprits and cider at Landmark Wholesale; Martin Swadling, category manager, licensed and tobacco, Musgrave Budgens Londis; and Rodney Hunt, managing director of the Today’s Group.
Summing up the importance of the licensed sector to wholesalers, Hunt told ProWholesaler: “Unlike many other parts of the market, which the multiples dominate, they only have 50% of the licensed trade and the brewers in particular work very well with wholesalers to maintain that balance. Wine is also growing tremendously, and suppliers in the licensed market generally have shown they are not in the pockets of the multiples.”