Caterers seek help from C Cs

Anew study of caterers using cash and carries has given an insight into their businesses and their relationship with suppliers. HIM’s Cash Carry Caterer Tracking Programme involved interviewing 2,200 caterers during September at depots operated by Batleys, Booker, Makro and Landmark Wholesale members.

A positive finding for the companies involved was that 72% of caterers said that they feel like a valued customer while shopping at cash and carries.

The majority of caterers only have a single outlet and say they serve 100 covers a week (but do they really know how many covers they are doing? it is unlikely that they have EPOS systems to capture this information.)

Just over a quarter of caterers (26%) say they are competing in their catchments against fast food outlets, 25% say pubs, 24% caf eacute;s and 21% restaurants, however 20% say that they do not compete against anyone (are they in denial or just lucky?).

Nearly half of caterers (47%) say that they do not go to anyone for help and advice, 6% get help and advice from the trade press, and only 3% say they get advice from wholesalers. Wholesalers should be doing more to act as an information source in order to keep caterers coming back time and time again. This is a suitable meeting place to get ideas and get inspired. This concept was supported by the 16% who say that in-depot product demonstrations are interesting and that they sometimes buy the products demonstrated, and 46% who said that they would like more information on new products and promotions – they are asking wholesalers to do more to support them in their businesses.

Only 6% of caterers find visits from cash and carry reps useful – why is this so low? Do the reps give practical advice and support to help caterers to develop their business? Are they providing enough useful information not just information on promotions? Price is not the only reason for visiting a cash and carry so should we always be so focused on it?

Supermarket threat

Caterers visit supermarkets due to the fact they are easier and more convenient. They are mainly buying bread and bakery products, fruit and vegetables, dairy products and milk from supermarkets. Is this due to them having a more creditable fresh offer with perceived better availability? Currently only 20% of caterers goods are purchased from supermarkets, but will this increase?

When deciding what to put on the menu 82% of caterers say that they respond to customer feedback and demand. However 27% say they never change their menus. This is where suppliers and wholesalers can work together as a way to inspire and get on to caterers’ menus.

Alcohol is very important to many caterers’ businesses. The 41% who are licensed to sell alcohol said it accounted for between 80-100% of their sales.

A third of caterers (33%) visit cash and carries once a week for a planned visit, and a further 21% visit twice a week. Eggs, chilled and diary, soft drinks and cooking aids and sauces are the top purchases/footfall drivers.

Over a quarter of caterers (26%) failed to buy an item they has planned to, with 70% of them saying that the reason they failed to buy was out of stock. However, are items really out of stock or just out of sight, for example stored up high in the racking?

Soft drinks, dairy products, meat/poultry/fish are the must stock items, according to caterers.

Direct mail is an effective tool for marketing to caterers, with 42% of them saying that they read leaflets and might buy the promotion when next visiting. Nearly a third (29%) said that they brought something on promotion and 57% said they arrived at the cash and carry intending to buy a promotion. The preferred promotional mechanic is 2 for 1, but 65% say they prefer everyday value.

Availability, value for money and cheap prices are the most important things for cash and carry chains to focus on, according to caterers. The top three improvements which caterers recommend to cash and carries are cheaper prices, better availability and better/more promotions.

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