FWD BLUEPRINT AUTUMN SURGE

With more wholesalers adopting the FWD Take Home Blueprint principles – and with the Blueprint for Wine continuing to be the most requested guidance by independent retailers – the industry’s proved impartial benchmark programme is in surge mode.

Launched for the beer category only in 1994, the Blueprint continues its role as the only non-promotional educational guide, free at the point of delivery, which guarantees increases in sales for independent retailers.

The scheme also continues its role as the industry’s proven benchmark from which wholesalers’ adaptations are derived – avoiding the damaging conflicts and confusion which once hurt the sector when vested interests fought for space and not for retailer benefits. For example, contrary to some opinion, the ARTD category remains of value to the wholesaler and independent retailer. The Take Home Blueprint planograms for the ARTD category are in the process of being updated for England and Wales and Scotland.

Recent figures show that market change year on year in total has declined in England and Wales by 3.96% year on year (Nielsen MAT to week 14/07/07) but has actually grown in Scotland by 0.23%. The new guidance reflects this value.

The surge continues with activity being planned for the PLOD exercise – Putting Leaders On Display – in the spirits category where trials have revealed substantial potential sales increases. PLOD involves the use of security caps on bottles on open shelving near the till – instead of being hidden away in a glass cabinet behind the counter.

The Take Home Blueprint continues to focus on driving the scheme alongside leading wholesalers to help and advise their retail customers. Wholesalers’ trust in the scheme grows.

The field team has been working closely with members of Landmark Wholesale and Bestway and Batleys. The team is currently working in partnership with Batley’s and its ‘Perfect Store’ project, which aims to deliver best-practice advice and retail disciplines to its retailers.

Shops in the Leeds and Bradford areas have already been converted to the Blueprint planograms and are achieving tangible results already.

The Blueprint scheme is also being adopted by Bestway, where as part of the Blueprint offering, training presentations will be delivered to 100 Bestway retailers at forums in Leeds and Bristol – developing their knowledge and understanding of range and merchandising.

The Blueprint team will also be undertaking a depot-tour of Bestway depots nationwide. Manned displays will be located in selected depots across the country with the team talking to retailers face-to-face on best retail practice in off licences.

Wine tasting

The Wine Blueprint continues to develop and has widened its services and initiatives to the independent retailer with wine tastings in-store. These are achieving a 100% success record in driving footfall, increasing sales and encouraging more customers to purchase wine. During one tasting, no fewer that 48 cases of one brand were sold

This follows on from the success of the Take Home Blueprint Wine Wheel, which offers both retailers and customers advice on matching food to their wine purchase and vice versa, and with over 30 in-store tasting events conducted in the past six months, wine tastings are achieving similar success for independent retailers across the country.

Scheme Director Ross Shelley said: “Wine tastings allow retailers to engage with their customers with some in-store theatre. They drive sales.

“Importantly, these tastings as part of the Blueprint culture help the store to become a beers, wines and spirits destination. It’s a contribution to the consolidation of the total independent local store sector.”

The Take Home Blueprint team has compiled a Wine Tasting kit that comprises of a stock of responsible-sized sampling glasses, cork screws, personalised POS material which includes window bills and a quantity of flyers.

They also have access to the Take Home Blueprint team for advice on how to hold the event.

The Blueprint team of regional merchandisers based around the country are also on hand, where available, to attend each retailers’ event and assist with the tastings.

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=== BLUEPRINT REPORT GETS A MAKEOVER ===

In keeping with the new communications strategy nbsp;to be adopted by the FWD Take Home Blueprint, the scheme’s nbsp;reporting system includes a new look for The Blueprint Report newsletter nbsp;which is nbsp;a controlled circulation document nbsp;to participating wholesalers and suppliers.

The newsletter was introduced to meet a growing need for improved communication between the team responsible for the field implementation of the activity and industry managers.

The new front cover design is intended to project the increased educational element of the scheme nbsp;and its operational aspects in the marketplace. The Take Home Blueprint scheme is managed on behalf of FWD by IMA Group Ltd, the Manchester marketing agency which has a permanent nbsp;open door policy nbsp;under which nbsp;retailers, wholesalers and suppliers are invited to visit the offices for a presentation of the mechanics of the scheme.

There is a dedicated ‘nerve centre’ at IMA from which the Blueprint advisors are controlled and to which they report on the detail of every in-store implementation. Field performance against agreed targets set for each of the category schemes is measured at IMA.

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=== tesco challenge beaten off ===

Sales have increased by 15% for store owner James Neary after a FWD Take Home Blueprint makeover.

When a Tesco superstore opened nearby, James was confident that his sales would not be affected.

Family-owned Neary’s Convenience Store, in Rossendale, has undergone extensive development, with several expansions and re-fits. Each time, James has asked the Blueprint team for assistance and as a result has seen his alcohol sales continue to rise.

He said: “You’d think being in this business for so long we would know all there is to know about selling alcohol, but the help available from the Blueprint has proved invaluable over the years and has helped us stay on top of our game.

“The alcohol market is very dynamic and is constantly changing, with new brands coming onto the market and new trends. Sometimes this can seem very overwhelming to an independent retailer. However, the Blueprint cuts through all this and gives you independent advice that really works.

“The new supermarket hasn’t touched my sales and I can truly say that it’s thanks to the advice and assistance of the Blueprint team. They’ve helped us create a fantastic specialist offering that can compete with anyone locally.”

He said: “I was wasting my time bulk buying offers at the wholesalers and then find that I would be sat on the same stock for months at a time. Concentrating on the brands recommended by the Blueprint makes a lot more sense as I am buying brands that I know will sell well and are what my customers are looking for.

“The results speak for themselves. Even in a thriving shop like ours, our off licence sales has seen a 15% uplift,” said James.

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=== blueprint kickstarts kumala sell out ===

The FWD Take Home Blueprint helped Nusrat Hussain, owner of Grange Moor Off Licence in Wakefield, to increase her wine sales by 80% in just four weeks. For example, sales of big brand Kumala were nil. But the makeover resulted in her entire stock being sold immediately.

Her local wholesaler Parfetts Cash Carry is also enjoying a knock-on effect of the Blueprint with Nusrat making more frequent trips to the Halifax depot to re-stock, with one trip a week increasing to at least three.

She explained: “Since the Blueprint team have helped me re-merchandise my store, I have seen a huge difference in my sales and the amount of stock I am now selling.

“I had the right brands but due to the way they were being displayed they just weren’t selling. I have had Kumala in stock for more than eight months with no sales, but as soon as the Blueprint team re-merchandised the wines I sold the entire stock immediately.”

She added: “The image is now so much more professional and I am still getting comments on how attractive and simple the fixtures look. It’s obviously working for every category”

The results were so good that Nusrat’s father, Mohammed, who owns a convenience store in nearby Brighouse, has also enlisted the help of the Blueprint with similar results.

Nusrat said: “It was a no-brainer that the other store should follow suit and have the same Blueprint makeover. Now, both stores follow the Blueprint principles and are doing incredibly well.”

Mohammed is experiencing a 40% increase across his wines and sales continue to rise week-on-week.

“The Blueprint has made a real difference to me and it’s hard to believe that such good advice is free,” he added.

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