Blueprint backs PLOD to boost spirits

The wholesale industry Blueprint for Spirits and Fortified Wines scheme plans to revolutionise the spirits market in the independent retail sector by promoting anti-theft security caps and open shelf self-select display.

In a marketing exercise code named PLOD – Putting Leaders On Display – the Federation of Wholesale Distributors’ Blueprint will lead the industry drive to win increased market share.
Plans are now advanced for trials which will introduce security caps fixed on high value bottles which can then be displayed on open shelves instead of behind the counter. The caps can only be removed by the retailer at the till – a thief will have to smash the bottle to get to the liquid.

Self-select of litre and 70cl bottles, with fractionals still behind the counter, has been pioneered by the Blueprint for more than two years. Independent retailers using self select showed increases in the sales of litres and 70cl. But FWD believes the security cap will give local retailers a new sense of confidence in self select.

The scheme has been constructed by IMA, the Manchester agency responsible for field implementation of the Blueprints, on behalf of the Federation. Alan Toft, Blueprint chairman, said: “PLOD is a twofold message – it will come to signify increased high value bottle sales but at the same time remind the retailer that the police will finger thieves.

“The security caps will be distributed eventually by every wholesaler selling spirits but we will first prove the economics of this new thinking. We must overcome the tradition of display of spirits behind the counter. It’s the biggest block on sales in the local market – it’s a throwback we must change.

“The Blueprint is opening up, by this scheme, the first new path to increased profits from spirits for independents since the first bottle of Scotch was distilled. The independent retailer should use the impartial and objective Blueprint guidance for product selection and display. They will not go wrong.

“PLOD, as a code name, will be a Blueprint copyright. It will serve to remind the market of the first principle of the Blueprints – Putting Leaders On Display – has been the catalyst for thousands of local retailers who now have a successful off licence,” said Toft.

Independent retailers who will be involved in the exercise are now being selected by wholesalers supporting the trials.

Prior to the decision to trial security caps, the independently owned Scisset Supermarket, in Scisset, West Yorkshire, put 70cls and half bottles on open display but near the counter. Fractionals remained defended behind the counter.
The store is owned by Harry and Kully Kaur, winners of the Blueprint Retailer of the Year 2005 – awarded for their successful implementation of the Blueprint principles in their off licence department.

Kully said: “We placed litres and 70cls of spirits out in the store on open shelves but near the counter as an experiment following a discussion with the Blueprint scheme director Ross Shelley.
“This self service allowed customers to examine the product and check the price. Sales increased by 15%. In addition our customers are upgrading – they are trying the more expensive lines. Malt whisky was once a once a year Christmas seller but we are now selling it through the year.”

The Kaurs have used the four Blueprints – for beers, lagers and ciders, wines, spirits and fortified wines, and alcoholic ready-to-drink (ARTDs) – to great effect in their store over the past seven years.

They believe the new security caps will be a great boost for the independent retailer and will take part in the trial. Kully said: “The Blueprints are a partnership. We provide our retailing experience and knowledge of our customers and the Blueprints bring us industry best practice.”

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