Buyer’s Diary

MONDAY
IGD’s recent review of the sector yet again directs unaffiliated independents towards symbol group membership for survival.

The guys at Letchworth Heath would do well to talk to cash and carry businesses like ours, and to our customers. We are working really well with unaffiliated retailers who are producing excellent growth – and we get to see a lot of symbol group customers in the depot, too – as Masterfood’s recent cash and carry survey proved.

Coca-Cola’s £7m spend behind the launch of Zs, the new zero added sugar range replacing diet and light variants, is very welcome.

The ‘healthier’ end of the soft drinks category, together with energy drinks, is alive and kicking with plenty of innovation and promotional opportunities. Britvic’s Tango Clear with no added sugar is another product full of potential.

All we need now is for that long-term weather forecast promising a fantastic summer to come true!

TUESDAY
I hope I don’t appear obsessed by multiple activities but it’s hard to ignore what’s going on at the moment.

Twenty per cent off all clothing purchases is an incredibly strong proposition from Tesco which will greatly increase its footfall at a time when Sainsbury’s is claiming increased market share and both Asda and Morrisons are feeling the pinch.

Now through the post comes a £15 off voucher on an £80 purchase from Waitrose – with free home delivery. That’s nearly a 20% saving – very tempting to say the least.

The BBC’s industrial dispute threatened to spoil our plans to publicise National Independents’ Day on June 1. But even without their help, the MSYS proposition was so strong this year we were confident the public would respond positively to it.

We understand the helplines received thousands of calls for the store merchandising kits and manuals, and the four-page feature in the Daily Mirror/Daily Record looked excellent.

WEDNESDAY
Bacardi’s investment in its three new half sugar Breezer introductions is vital to the future of the ailing category.

Its £2.5m launch spend will help revive ARTDs which is so important to the independent trade. With the introduction of new lines such as Archers Vea and increased marketing spend from both Smirnoff Ice and WKD, it may yet be possible to turn this category back into growth.

Trying very hard to be non political, it does worry me when I see the likes of the British Retail Consortium wanting to take on the government by fighting proposed increases in the minimum wage. Surely good employers want to reward their staff for their efforts. Just look at the John Lewis Partnership. Why don’t the big bosses (and many small local employers) who argue about keeping wages down try to live on £4.85 an hour for a couple of months? And pay the mortgage, feed the family and save up for a holiday while they’re at it.

THURSDAY
Wrigley’s continues to invest in new tastes and pack designs that keep it head and shoulders above the competition in the chewing gum market.

Perhaps it’s time its product development people began working on a gum formula that doesn’t result in tacky environmentally unfriendly residues that get stuck to your shoes and clothing. Instead of promoting longer lasting flavour shouldn’t it be asking consumers to dispose of it thoughtfully?

Watch Chilean wines improve their overall market share in the May-June ACNielsen stats. Cocha y Toro’s Maipo Chilean Sauvignon and Merlot varietal wines would not normally sell for £2.76 a bottle in Sainsbury’s – but when they do, boy it’s a winner

The Grocer suggests only 5% of retailers have contacted their local authority to progress their new licence application to sell alcohol. Can the reason be a failure to understand the full implications of the new Act and the responsibilities it brings?
It will cost a lot more for a premises licence and holders of personal licences will have to undertake accredited training. We understand that even wholesalers, many of whom engage in ‘sale by retail’ and will therefore need new premises and personal licences, have yet to contact their local licensing authority.

We have found them to be very helpful.

FRIDAY
I have just had a quick look over our retail club promotion leaflet for June. It’s full of great deals including multi-buys, ‘discounted’ price-marked packs, half-price offers and even a BOGOF.

Deep down we accept in principle that independents cannot match or beat the multiples for a weekly shop (nor should they try), but these promotions prove we can offer great value right across the store, save consumers money and encourage them to use the local store more often.

Burton’s Foods announces that my favourite sweet snack, the Wagon Wheel, has an even better ‘more chocolatey’ taste. Over the years the wheels have become smaller (or have I grown bigger?) and the chocolate thinner. Now, at last, Burton’s is perfecting a product that I hope will go rolling on for many more years. I hope the Tunnock Wafer boys are listening in.

The failure of Kit Kat low carb is a warning to all that big brand names cannot automatically expect to succeed in niche markets.

Few brands have been subjected to so much attention, with so many limited edition launches and new variants. More will follow for sure, but more will fail to capture the public imagination.

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