Keeping ahead of the competition

Innovation is vital for manufacturers, and their wholesale customers, who are looking for a competitive advantage and in this section we showcase some of the work that is being carried out.

When it comes to successfully supplying independent retailers, caterers or professional users, it is vital that manufacturers adapt their products for their customers’ requirements.

As this section demonstrates, Bernard Matthews is adapting its range, by offering price-marked packs exclusively to the convenience store sector. Wholesalers and retailers favour price-marking because it gives c-store customers confidence about the price they are paying, and ensures any promotions are passed on to consumers.

Bernard Matthews has also been updating its range with improved packaging and recipes, and is backing it up with a pound;2m media campaign breaking on August 1. It features national TV and radio advertising, and the PR campaign is fronted by former Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies.

Cleaning products may not sell as quickly as some other lines in wholesalers, but they offer much higher cash margins and are showing growth for many operators.

Richard Jorden, commercial director of DCS, a wholesaler which specialises in cleaning products, says the professional sector is growing strongly. He says: “Our ‘professional goods’ sales, such as big box powders and five litre liquids, are indexing at 133% through cash and carries.”

A product that is a clear technological advance on its competitors in this market is Persil Liquigel Bag-in-a-box Fabric Wash. The product uses wine box technology to provide a far more practical method of dispensing liquid detergent in the professional sector. The design of the pack also minimises its volume meaning more items can be stored in a smaller space compared with products in traditional packaging – an important consideration in cash and carries where space is always at a premium, and for delivered wholesalers with limited space in lorries.

Category innovation is often the result of partnership between wholesalers and manufacturers. One of the most striking examples of this is the FWD Blueprint, which has evolved to cover the entire alcoholic drinks category in the independent sector.

The FWD has brought drinks companies together and using category management principles they have agreed industry standard planograms for each of the segments within the alcohol category. These have been implemented by retailers with considerable success, boosting their sales and therefore their wholesalers’ sales also.

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