SALES and marketing agencies have a crucial part to play in introducing brands to the convenience sector.
According to father- and-son agency, JFK Partnership, one of its roles is to: “ensure that the independent trade enjoys a level playing field at all times and in all aspects of new product development, marketing initiatives, pricing and promotional support.”
John Kerr said: “Parity of pricing and marketing support is at the very core of what we deliver when we bring our customers and clients together to build successful business partnerships.”
From their base in Elgin, Kerr and his son Michael represent Hamlyn’s of Scotland, Millar, Golden Cross, Nisha’s, Irish firm Buchanan’s, and Comptons’ Gravy Salt. Their newest listing is long-established Glasgow-based tea and coffee company Thomsons.
With over 25 years experience, JFK offers a pure sales and marketing brokerage for clients who want to outsource sales and marketing while keeping storage, delivery and invoicing in house. The Kerrs see this as a recession-friendly way for smaller operations to take products to market. “With intense competition, food price inflation, and tightening margins, the brokerage option wins every time.”
As the major grocery multiples expand their convenience store formats throughout Scotland, Kerr stresses the need for existing c-stores to borrow some of their techniques.
“Independents are increasingly looking to emulate the multiples’ proven sales success by highlighting Scottish brands on shelf,” he explained. “The JFK Partnership is ideally placed to deliver a range of well-established Scottish brands.”
He points to Hamlyns’ new range of porridge pots and sachets, and Millar’s return to their position as one of the fastest- selling confectionery brands in Scotland as “testimony to what can be achieved in today’s feverish level of food product activity”.
• Another important role for brokers is advising clients on what launches will work in their target market. Jim Hutton, of Brand Associates UK, refuses to represent products he doesn’t think he can sell. He recently turned down a Swiss coffee company: “I’d rather give an honest opinion rather than take the money and run only to find out, six months down the line, that it doesn’t work.”
For Hutton, who represents Marshalls, Primula Cheese and CellarVino’s wine range, dealing with the independent sector is rewarding.
“Everyone wants to be there.” He sees the fact that his c-store clients are ordering larger pack sizes as proof that shopping habits are changing.
“Even the big boys are becoming convenience stores. It’s making the sector more profitable.”
From a client’s point of view, he says that the independent channel is a good place to introduce a new product. “
We can do things faster. Unlike the multiples, there’s no need to wait for a category review. It’s possible to have a more impactful launch in c-stores.”
He points to a new client, American canned chicken firm Crider, which is keen to expand beyond its initial listing at Costco and penetrate the wholesale and convenience sector in the UK.
Hutton has also just taken on a pet treat manufacturer, based in Poland, that is already supplying discount chains and is keen to move into multiples and c-stores. His role will be to discuss the product, see where it fits into the client’s chosen sector and advise on the best marketing strategy.