Suppliers were urged to provide the independent sector with an equal chance to feature new products by Steve Roper, director of trading, alcohol and tobacco for Booker.
Roper said: “Offering a product to independent retailers after six months exclusivity in the multiple channel does not work. Suppliers need to work with us, building in launch programmes that enable the independent to shout about new products and drive their business.”
Booker demonstrated how well this could work for brands, he said, by working with Beverage Brands to launch WKD Red into its Premier and retail club members at the same time it was appearing in Tesco.
Roper also said that the spirits market was a sector that had a tendency to under-perform in the independent sector.
He suggested there were two main reasons for this – concerns over shrinkage and the lack of price information. “While consumers do not mind paying more for products in the convenience sector, they do not want to ask the price,” he said.
The first issue has seen the introduction of Putting Leaders On Display (PLOD) and the use of security caps. Booker has addressed the second issue by teaming up with Diageo to offer price-marked Smirnoff, Gordon’s and Bells, exclusively to the independents.
Roper said availability was a vital issue for wholesalers and retailers: “Increasingly, more retailers are converting what was storage space into selling space.” The result, according to Roper, was that the cash and carry was becoming the independent’s stock room, so that when a product was absent from the cash and carry it was absent from the independent’s shelves as well. Roper added: “Through improving our efficiency and procedures, we have managed the best service levels we have had for four years.”