Stocking trade

Plan ahead and steal a march on the multiples – that’s what independents need to do to stay on top of Christmas confectionery sales and it’s where the cash and carry/wholesale trade can help them.

“We’ve already spent a great deal of time planning for the 2006 season,” says Hancocks purchasing director, Richard Brittle. “It goes without saying that the multiples will once again be a strong force, but with a carefully planned range and a good understanding of their customers needs, independents can make good profits at Christmas time.”

And so Hancocks is urging retailers to display their Christmas lines early: “Many people like to get organised early, and if they see you have a good range including some different products, they will buy from you. We always have a big selection of things like advent calendars and tree decorations, and will have our full Christmas range on sale from September,” says Brittle.

Mike Tipping, Cadbury Trebor Bassett’s head of customer relations, comments: “Understanding the consumer and shopper is the key focus for our exciting 2006 Christmas range. This has led to the number one range of selection boxes being completely redesigned to improve impact on shelf and making the fixture easier to shop. We continue to put the heart back into gifting with the launch of the very indulgent Roses Premium Truffle selection which has already scored a big hit in consumer trials.

“The new Cadbury Dairy Milk ‘Snowman Surprise’ and Cadbury ‘Santa’s Workshop’ are very much about delivering NPD which brings the very magic of Christmas to our consumers as only the UK’s number one confectionery manufacturer can. This really does give retailers the confidence to purchase across our entire portfolio of products as all of us want to deliver exactly what the shopper requires.

“Shopper research indicates that they are demanding even more from their retailers. They really want the store to reflect the magic of Christmas with exciting and extensive displays which are highly themed, easy to shop and will make them feel as though retailers are entering into the spirit of Christmas. Retailers who made the effort in 2005 recorded up to a 40% increase in sales.

Graham Walker, trade communications manager at Nestlé Rowntree, believes that the early trader can catch some extra sales: “I’d advise depot managers to get giant tubes of sweets out early so independents can stock them early. They’re great novelty gifts but if consumers see them in the shops they tend to buy them, eat them and then buy some more.”

Typically these tubes, such as Smarties and Rowntrees Fruit Pastilles, retail at pound;1.39. New for Christmas 2006 are pink Smarties, which retail at pound;1.39 and are perfect for girls, and Aero Bubbles tubes, which retail at pound;1.49.

Walker also points to the seasonal impulse lines – from Nestlé the Big Green Triangle, Big Purple One and Big Orange Crunch – sales of which peak between mid September and the end of November.

Headline news from Nestlé is the 70th birthday of Quality Street, which will be celebrated with the launch of a 1.3kg birthday tin. “Quality Street did really well in the independents last Christmas and we aim to build on that this year. The thing that sets it apart from other twistwraps is its toffees, caramels and fudges so we are launching a tin of just those, which will retail at pound;6.99,” says Walker.

Quality Street will also receive a boost thanks to a pound;4m media campaign which will include TV advertising.

Another Nestlé brand that sold well was After Eight, thanks to the launch of the straws format. For Christmas 2006 there is a new Grand Marnier variety of straws plus a new milk version of standard After Eight. Also available will be premium bags of individually wrapped dark and milk After Eights. Like Quality Street, After Eights will be backed by TV advertising.

Also on TV for Christmas 2006 is Terry’s Chocolate Orange with ads fronted by comedienne Dawn French that will show her with people from around the world trying to crack open their oranges. The ads will air from September to keep the brand front of mind in the run up to Christmas.

However the big news from Kraft for Christmas is the launch of premium confectionery brand Cote d’Or into the premium gifting arena with Cote d’Or Oraia. This comprises individually wrapped portions of milk chocolate praline, coated in pieces of crunchy hazelnut. RRP is pound;3.49.

Back to last Christmas, and Andrea Taylor, trade relations manager at Masterfoods, says the impulse trade performed well but the company’s data suggests that it could still do better. “Our estimates suggest that the trade lost out on pound;5m last year because they didn’t choose the right range and suffered from availability issues.

“Sales growth has come from retailers taking on board advice to stock a tighter range and focus on top sellers. This is because when customers are shopping in an impulse environment they do not want to be confused by too much product choice. By stocking the top sellers, retailers can maximise their sales and profits.

“So our ‘must stock’ advice for wholesalers would be Celebrations large carton, Maltesers 146g, pound;2.29 Selections range. The three ‘must stock’ tubes are Maltesers, Minstrels and Revels, plus the new Mars, Mars Delight and Ripple Gifting Cubes.”

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=== Buyer’s viewpoint ===

Stock up to be ready for the opportunity is a strategy we fully believe in and is a message we keep reiterating to both our salesforce and our customers.

Last year it was disappointing to see retailers running out of products before Christmas Day and missing out on the extra sales and extra profits those sales obviously bring.

New product innovation has been lacking and with the exception of Nestlé After Eight Straws, Bendicks Gorgeous Chocolates and the Cadbury centenary products we found very little else significantly contributed to any extra sales in this area.

My challenge to all confectionery manufacturers is to do more to attract consumers into the impulse arena because more and more products are disappearing from supplier listings each year.

As a result the instant temptation for the consumer is nowhere near as evident as it was in previous years and the lines that do remain are mainly offered with the multibuy arena in mind.

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=== supplier viewpoint ===

The wholesale channel is extremely important to us as it accounts for a significant proportion of our volume at this key time of year. Wholesalers give us good support in general but we do feel there is room for improvement. Early display of our Christmas range is vital to maximise sales – it’s all about visibility and impact. Retailers do not always pass on the promotional investment to the end consumer so wholesalers could do more to exert influence/educate the retailers that by effectively using the monies invested by manufacturers in promotions they could be more competitive at key times. This would give the consumer the value and quality they seek.

This Christmas we will be running promotional activity across the Bendicks range. For example on Mingles and Gorgeous there will be a ‘Buy four outers and get a free outer of Werther’s Original Butter Candy bag 150g x 15 (worth pound;14.25 @ RRP)’ offer. In addition, the RRP on Gorgeous 30g is down from 99p to 69p in an on-going promotion. We will also be investing pound;2m in TV advertising which will be on air in November and December.

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