Buyer’s Diary

MONDAY
The Andrex Twin 95p price-marked pack is an excellent promotion opportunity, helping to keep paperware sales buoyant.

A wide selection of price-marked products is helping independents deliver great value right across the store. These include Nescafé, PG Tips, Tetley Tea Bags, Shredded Wheat, Fanta, I Can’t Believe it’s Butter, McVitie’s Digestives and Persil Washing Up Liquid. This is the right way to develop sales in our sector but we must be given the right price points, and shared margins have to be protected.

Probably the only volume route to market for counterfeit Persil and Surf washing powders is via unscrupulous independent retailers purchasing through ‘alternative’ supply channels. Unilever is taking a hard line, rightly so, in tracking down the supply chain and pursuing those responsible through trading standards and the police. We wholesalers, too, can play our part by reporting suspicious deals or sudden changes in sales patterns.

Inbev UK may be engaging in wishful thinking by predicting Leffe will be a top 10 beer brand with the next 10 years. While Inbev claims the Christmas beer market has been devalued by £125m a year and greater pricing stability is needed, it and the other big brewers should be focusing on the many leading beer brands reaching our customers through dubious supply channels at prices substantially below our current costs. These activities are hurting our business and threaten the profitability of the whole category and must be stopped before our Christmas trade is ruined.

TUESDAY
So, Tesco profits hit nearly £1bn in the first half year figures – a performance for which Sir Terry acknowledges ‘more competitive pricing’ as one of the key elements of their continued success.

He says their future success is limited only by their imagination but I think increased selling area, an expanded c-store and forecourt estate and lack of inspired competition will also play a part.

The failure of Nestle’s Baci brand after less than a year is a stark reminder that a big marketing spend and consumer sampling programme is no guarantee of success.

Its entry into this lucrative category proved to be tougher than it thought. Ferrero knows this market well, but how is its new Giotto brand performing? Meanwhile, the Kinder Free Swim for Kids promotion is taking off really well.

Sad that a Scottish Spar retailer blames the minimum wage for reduced profits. Presumably he wants to pay his staff less.
What importance should we attach to relationships between staff and customers, for surely a well rewarded staff member will add value to any business. Good staff should not be viewed as slaves to be exploited but as ambassadors for the store within the community it serves. Operating in the front line, they are worth their weight in gold.

WEDNESDAY
Today’s post brings an invitation to a major sporting event from a leading supplier.

The opportunity is hugely tempting – but we have a dispute with them over trading terms and their promotional investment with us this year is well down. What a dilemma!
Do I stand firm and refuse the invitation outright or should I accept and use the time to try to persuade them to see our point of view?

Baileys ‘with a hint of mint’ introduction to the Duty Free market tastes familiar. Remember Greensleeves, a short-lived cream liqueur development from IDV some 20 years ago. With the huge profits Diageo make on Bailey’s, it’s no surprise it wants to exploit the brand name, but the current fortunes of Bailey’s Glide are a reminder of just how easily brand extensions can fail.

Wagon Wheels sales are set to grow with a rich 50% extra free deal – that’s one offer that will encourage increased consumption, with me at least, just a year since Burton’s introduced a more ‘chocolately’ taste – this brand just goes rolling on.

THURSDAY
With quality Gallo premium wine brands like Sycamore Canyon being discounted by more than half price to £3.79 a bottle in major multiples, what is the point of us trying to develop Sierra Valley everyday varietals and blends from the same company to sell at over £4 a bottle in the independent sector?

Gallo is not alone. Hardy’s, Kumala, Stowell’s, Concha y Toro and others are also guilty of dumping large quantities of premium quality wines through the multiples in this way.
England winning back the ashes is certain to spark off a lot of new marketing initiatives from the food and drinks sector to exploit the new-found popularity of cricket. Pity it comes at the end of the season and the shift of coverage to terrestrial TV, which could dilute advertising spend and effectiveness.

If Heinz is pulling out of chilled and frozen foods, what does that tell us about its future direction? Heinz soups have crept back into our autumn activity. These price-driven promotions fall far short of our expectations of the great HJH revival half promised in late summer. We’re still waiting to find out what it intends to do to put life back into the soup market.

FRIDAY
The proposed restrictions on school vending machines could mean extra business for independent retailers as students are forced to shop elsewhere for their daily snacks, because I hardly think they can be tempted to pursue the healthier options.

The current Kellogg’s Crunchy Nuts ‘Win a Mini’ competition will do a lot more for the brand than a big extra fill pack. It is a mistake to think that unique products need to go to extra fill, especially when it will not result in additional consumption. Tea bag companies, especially, please note!

Scottish Courage is serious about getting the cider market in order. Having taken the lead by removing extra fill on two litre PETs, which some other cider companies have since picked up, I hear it now plans to phase out extra fill on Strongbow cans.

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