Innovation promotes sales

Wholesalers have been investing in their businesses in a big way this year and it looks as though this demonstration of faith in the future of their businesses will be matched by a wave of new products and concepts from manufacturers.

Wholesalers ranging from family owned companies such as Parfetts, Hyperama and Hancocks, right up to multinational giants like Costco and Makro, have all demonstrated their commitment to the future of the market with substantial investments in their businesses.

A round of development began with Parfetts spending £6m to develop a new cash and carry in Sheffield, and Hancocks followed with a new depot in Watford and pledges that there would be more.

Costco has opened two new depots this year, at Bristol and Milton Keynes, with more in the pipeline, and Makro will be following up its multi-million pound spend on its Charlton depot with similar makeovers for other depots once the concept has been fine-tuned. Hyperama, too, has joined in the development adding a new depot in Peterborough.

In this supplement we will be highlighting some of the investment and new launches that manufacturers are planning to make in 2006, to offer products worthy of these new depots.
Wine is one of the success stories of the last few years with the increasing amounts drunk by UK consumers helping it to supplant beer as the most successful take home drink. Ernest Julio Gallo has been one of the companies at the forefront of that growth and it is distributing and promoting the Australian brand JJ McWilliam to the convenience sector. Australian wines have been one of the great drivers of the growth in wines over the last few years and E J Gallo is looking to blend its experience of distributing in the UK, with a new range of JJ McWilliam wines, to generate sales growth for wholesalers and their customers.

In the spirits and RTDs sector vodka dominates the market and is the basis of many of Independent Distillers’ products. At this year’s Drinksummit ACNielsen marketing manager David Glennon told delegates: “Vodka is rapidly becoming the default spirit and despite its huge size it continues to enjoy the strongest growth and has added nearly £50m year-on-year.”

Adapting quickly to a fast changing market Independent Distillers has launched Vodka Mudshake, a blend of vodka, milk and fruit flavours, ready to drink vodka shots and Funky Monkey, a new range of free pour vodka shots.

Confectionery has long been a stalwart of the cash and carry sector and the big brands have not let up on their NPD programmes and support for the sector, keeping it buzzing with a stream of new products and blockbuster promotions.
This year Masterfoods introduced new pouch packaging for Maltesers, White Maltesers, Minstrels and Revels, supported with a £3m marketing programme, and said it expected the changes to boost sales by 15%.

Next year it is promising more innovation involving some of its biggest names, but it is also investing in support for cash and carries to help them identify where they may be losing out on sales opportunities. Research by him! into shopper behaviour in cash and carry depots has been used by Masterfoods to draw up guidance on to maximise sales in the confectionery category.

Nestlé Rowntree would claim to have had the biggest promotion of 2005, having secured the product tie-in rights to the Willy Wonka film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Spin-offs from the film included three new bars launched to coincide with the release of the film and further Wonka tie-ins for Christmas. Next year Nestlé is promising bigger and better events to keep its brands at the forefront of consumers and retailers’ minds, and to help generate all-important impulse sales.

Unilever has been committed to developing sales through the independent sector in a range of categories with a number of initiatives such as its Partners for Growth programme. Next year it will be putting considerable marketing spend behind one of its best known brands, Persil, as it introduces new cleaning technology to the laundry market.

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