AG introduces celebration packs of Rubicon for Diwali

AG Barr is encouraging wholesalers and retailers to make the most of the Diwali opportunity by stocking up on special celebration packs of Rubicon.

Rubicon’s Mango, Guava and Passion flavours will be available in both plain and price-marked celebration packs, with a premium look to help shoppers celebrate the festival of lights. Outers contain 12 x one-litre cartons.

“Diwali is celebrated by 1.3 million people throughout the UK, representing £80 million in incremental sales and in turn a huge profit opportunity for retailers,” says Adrian Troy, head of marketing at AG Barr.

“Food and drink are at the heart of festival celebrations, with sales of exotic juice drinks increasing by 42% at this time (Kantar/AG Barr). Having a large range of flavours to choose from is really important to shoppers, particularly during Diwali, when they are catering for large family gatherings.”

AG Barr will be supporting Rubicon with a range of eye-catching POS, enabling retailers to engage with customers during this key period.

Tel: AG Barr (01204) 664200

Published Date: August 13, 2017
Category: Product of the Month

Boost Drinks launches £25,000 promotion on 500ml PETs

Boost Drinks will be launching an on-pack promotion on its 500ml PET price-marked bottles in September, promising over 1,000 winners a total prize fund of £25,000 in cash, Amazon vouchers and cinema tickets.

Promotional packs feature a printed code, which consumers will be asked to input into a Boost microsite to find out instantly if they are a winner.

All entrants will also be placed into a prize draw to win a £2,500 Virgin gift card to create a lifetime experience. The winner will be announced on 15 December.

PoS for the promotion will start appearing in depots from late August, and 12 lucky retailers will win £1,000 each.

Natalie Rich, marketing controller at Boost Drinks, explains: “Supporting our independent retailers, this prize draw rewards their support of Boost. Each outer case will feature a token on the shrinkwrap, which, post-purchase, the retailer can ‘tear & share’, returning it to Boost by post or by emailing a picture.”

Retailers who return their token will then be entered into a weekly prize draw to win £1,000 cash. The first draw will take place on 29 September, and each week thereafter until 15 December.

The 500ml on-pack promotion will be supported by out-of-home and digitial advertising, PR and social media activity.

Tel: Boost Drinks (0113) 240 3666

Published Date: August 13, 2017
Category: Product & Promotions News

Feeling good about wholesale – Simon Ruddick of Vimto UK

Simon Ruddick (pictured), commercial controller for cash & carry at Vimto UK, explains why he believes it is an exciting time to work with the wholesale channel.

What proportion of your business goes through the wholesale trade?

In 2016, we delivered significant year-on-year growth across our brand portfolio of Vimto, Levi Roots, Sunkist and Feel Good, and the cash & carry and delivered wholesale channel now contributes 30% of Nichols’ UK Packaged volume. Our collaborative relationships with C&C/wholesalers have enabled us to achieve on-time in-full (OTIF) levels of 98.8% across the channel so far in 2017.

How are you looking to develop your business through the wholesale trade?

Retail is the biggest part of our cash & carry business, with 70% of our volume in price-marked packs that offer competitive shared margins. We have seen significant growth recently in retail
symbol groups, and we will continue to focus on them when and where wholesalers can demonstrate good ongoing and promotional compliance in stores.

Foodservice is also becoming an important element of our channel. As well as our No.1 volume SKU – Vimto plain pack can – our 100% natural Feel Good brand is an ideal proposition for both foodservice and licensed outlets.

How can cash & carries and delivered wholesalers improve their sales of soft drinks?

It is pivotal to use the increasing amount of data becoming available to educate retailers on the numerous consumption opportunities throughout the day. Both wholesalers and cash & carries need to:
•  Range the best-sellers by category according to sales on a national and regional basis to ensure both customer and consumer demand is met.
•  Manage the ‘tail end’ products that contribute very little to the category and in fact potentially deplete sales of best- sellers by taking up valuable shelf space.
•  Ensure limited duplication of ‘me too’ products and offer ranges with a USP, thus still ensuring breadth of range.
•  Within cash & carries, utilise front of store and power aisle sites to merchandise ‘disruptive’ secondary displays.
•  Work with supply partners who show a desire to invest in the channel to drive mutual sales; for example, we at Vimto invest in a third-party sales team to work with depot contacts to ensure that all sales opportunities are explored.

Are there any categories within your portfolio that you are specifically pushing through C&C/wholesale?

The Vimto soft drink brand is now worth £74 million in the UK [+6% year on year] (Nielsen). Vimto is outperforming the market in the still, carbonates and dilutables categories, and with massive brand ‘headroom’ we will continue to focus and drive in all three areas. However, of particular interest in the C&C channel is our Vimto still (RTD) range, which is growing at 19% versus the 5.5% drop in the overall still market.

The launch of Vimto Remix last year contributed to our total Vimto 500ml still range delivering volume growth of 44% year on year within the C&C/wholesale channel. Remix has already achieved sales of £4.5 million, and we have recently launched a wholesale/convenience channel exclusive – a 500ml £1 PMP in Mango, Strawberry & Passionfruit.

What is your opinion on the forthcoming tax on sugary soft drink sales?

At Nichols, we have taken out the equivalent of 3.7 billion calories since 2012 and we will be in a good position by 1 April 2018. Already in the UK, over 40% of our sales are non-added-sugar, zero or 100% natural, whilst all products containing sugar will be ‘levy’ free.

Are there any cash & carries or delivered wholesalers you wish to highlight as being particularly progressive?

With increasingly demanding consumers expecting more from their local convenience store, a raft of recent legislation affecting both retailer and cash & carry/wholesaler cost structures, and the potential Booker/Tesco merger, the wholesale sector is changing quicker than ever before.

I moved from a multiple grocer background three years ago, and I believe this channel is really exciting to work in. I see the bigger regional and national players evolving their operating models and category ranges and I am forever blown away by the passion shown by the smaller independent operators to firstly survive and then thrive.

Tel: Nichols (01925) 222222

Published Date: August 12, 2017
Category: Meet the Manufacturer

Sue Knowles wins Costco ‘Inspiring Woman’ award

Sue Knowles (pictured), marketing & admin director of Costco UK, won the company’s ‘Inspiring Woman’ award at its annual conference in Seattle last month.

The award was given to Knowles for her work in developing the wholesaler’s internal association, ‘Journeys’, whose mission is to help women succeed through educational, mentoring and networking opportunities.

Knowles was also praised for her involvement in chairing the UK branch of the LEAD network (Leading Executives Advancing Diversity), which encourages aspiring female leaders in UK retail, FMCG and wholesale to come together at free networking events.

Knowles started her career at Avon Cosmetics as PA to the operations director. Within five years she was senior product manager. She left to join Booker Cash & Carry as PR manager following its acquisition of Linfood, and then joined Costco in 1993 as its UK marketing manager. Knowles was a founder member of the UK start-up team: she was employee number six! Since then, she has remained responsible for all marketing and admin for the company as it has grown to encompass 28 branches.

Tel: Costco UK (01923) 213113

Published Date: August 10, 2017
Category: Wholesale Industry News

AF Blakemore denies C&Cs are up for sale

AF Blakemore & Son has issued a statement denying national newspaper reports that it is to sell its wholesale division, which comprises 13 cash & carries.

The new-look Wolverhampton depot.

A spokesman for Bestway, which was mentioned by the press as heading the list of those expressing interest in any disposal, told Cash & Carry Management: “We will always be linked with speculation, but will only comment once any deal is concluded.”

The papers also said that negotiations were being handled by KPMG.

In a statement, Blakemore said: “AF Blakemore & Son Ltd is not for sale and our focus remains upon the company’s core purpose of building a profitable and sustainable family business for the benefit of our staff, customers, suppliers and the communities we serve.

“AF Blakemore has been a family-owned business for the past century and is committed to building a successful company for the next 100 years. Blakemore Wholesale is part of this strategy and we are looking at all options to develop the business and improve its performance.”

The cash & carry operation, a leading member of Landmark Wholesale, was reported to be on offer for £100 million.

Blakemore has recently closed its 10,000 sq ft Hexham, Northumberland, branch, previously operating as Lowrie’s. The cash & carry had a staff of seven.

However, on 4 August, the wholesaler relaunched its Wolverhampton depot with a new look and more fine foods, fresh meat and catering products. The revamp, which took place in just four weeks, will be replicated over the next three months in the other 12 Blakemore C&Cs. A new focus will be on mid-level foodservice and the out-of-home market in an attempt by the company to raise its levels of on-trade and catering business from 10% to 20-25%.

A process of rationalisation will result in the number of lines in the total range being cut from over 20,000 to fewer than 8,000. Then the range will be managed on a ‘one in, one out’ basis. “If the commercial proposition, brand proposition, packaging and flavour of a particular product aren’t right for our customers, we’re not going to sell it,” said Blakemore Wholesale MD James Russell.
Suppliers have also been put under scrutiny, with the current 851 reduced by 384. Eventually there will be a supplier base of 355 who will sit in one of three categories: strategic, core and specialist. The realigned focus will prioritise the 21% of the supply base that produce 90% of turnover.

After the supplier shake-up, Blakemore Wholesale is aiming to offer 99.5% availability to customers, with 100% on the top 1,000 SKUs. Suppliers have been called on to improve their service – since the start of the year, they have crossed off more than £5 million in stock and the service level from the top 100 is 92%.

Blakemore has also pledged to be more competitive while improving margins for retailers. The soft drinks, crisps and snacks categories have seen pricing changes, and suppliers have been told that a reduction in profit margins on promotions is no longer acceptable.

Meanwhile, Blakemore’s staff have received new uniforms and training focused on product knowledge and active selling. Depots are being asked to identify their top 30 spenders and their habits, reconnect with the top 30 lapsed customers, and get to know new customers.

The retail club, which has three fascias, has also been examined. Customer categories on the system have been streamlined from 28 to six, and 100 customers have been expelled from the club. Russell said: “As a business we have a huge amount of room for improvement, both in terms of the way we communicate with our suppliers and the way that we engage in general. This, for us, is very much a step forward.”

Group turnover of AF Blakemore & Son is over £1.3 billion and the main division is its Spar distribution business, which is unaffected by the latest changes and rumours.

Tel: AF Blakemore & Son (01902) 366066

Published Date: August 9, 2017
Category: Wholesale Industry News