Taking a view from the shop-floor
BISCUIT and cake producers are certain their brands can bring in the dough for retailers, but is that the case at the coalface?
Plenty has been made of so called ‘clean eating’ on social media but according to c-store retailers Scottish consumers have still got something of a sweet tooth and they’ve no qualms with treating themselves on occasion.
Premier retailer Faraz Iqbal of Linktown Local Kirkcaldy said cakes have been a big hit at his store. Demand is on the rise and Faraz is taking steps to take full advantage of the opportunity.
“Cakes have been doing really well actually. I’ve got all the seasonal Mr Kipling cakes which I get through van sales.
“Cakes is a big market for us in Scotland, everyone has a sweet tooth and they like a treat. That’s good because there’s so much variety out there that retailers can get some good margins.”
–Faraz Iqbal, Premier Linktown Local
“I’ve expanded my cakes in store actually, just at the end of January, and soon I should have a range that’s doubled in size,” said Faraz.
There are doubtless many reasons cakes might be performing well at Linktown Local Kirkcaldy, but the most obvious answer also appears to be correct according to Faraz.
“Cakes is a big market for us in Scotland everyone has a sweet tooth and they like a treat.
“That’s good because there’s so much variety out there that retailers can get some good margins.”
Striking that volume vs. margin balance is something retailers deal with on a daily basis, and in biscuits the price-marked pack can have a major influence over how well a SKU will shift.
“Local is important to us. We do a massive range of Borders. I know everyone does Borders but we do about 30 of their SKUs, it’s probably one of the biggest Borders ranges around.”
– Donna Morgan, Best-one @ Brownlie’s
According to Faraz, PMPs can really get biscuit sales going but it’s also worth weighing up just how good those margins really are.
“Anything price-marked is going to sell. The only thing is you need to watch out for the margins at that price,” he said.
Donna Morgan of Best-one @ Brownlie’s in Biggar has no shortage of biscuits and cakes in her store. In addition to an expansive range of home baking supplies that would do a specialist shop proud, Donna has all the branded biscuits a customer might expect as well as a broad range of Scottish produce.
And it’s the local stuff that really shifts in South Lanarkshire according to Donna with Scottish brands proving to be a hit with both regular customers and tourists passing through Biggar.
“Local is important to us,” said Donna.
“We do a massive range of Borders. I know everyone does Borders but we do about 30 of their SKUs, it’s probably one of the biggest Borders ranges around.”
It’s not just Borders that’s a big hit, Donna’s comprehensive range of Scottish biscuits and cakes includes an entire fixture dedicated to Walkers products, a brand that goes so well that the shortbread producer was still making deliveries to the store during the wild winter weather that brought most traffic in Scotland to a halt.
“My biscuits are quite slow just now, they don’t sell particularly well. It’s down to a mix of things. Cake sales have been on the rise. I have Browning’s the Bakers and some branded stock.”
– Imran Ali, Bourtreehill Supermarket
Deliveries might have been difficult but, if Donna’s customers are anything to go by, biscuit and cake producers might want to pray for further snow storms and traffic chaos as the poor weather has been great for category sales according to the Biggar based retailer.
“Over the last few days everyone has been picking up cakes. People have been going ‘sod it, the diet is out the window’, and grabbing crisps and cakes,” she said.
Over in Ayrshire, Imran Ali of Bourtreehill Supermarket has had a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to biscuit and cakes sales with one category outperforming the other.
Imran’s cakes sales suggest there’s no sweet tooth shortage in Ayrshire, but it’s not being enjoyed across the board.
“My biscuits are quite slow just now, they don’t sell particularly well,” he said.
“It’s down to a mix of things. There’s been some reformulation and pack sizes have come down.”
Imran said that while biscuits sales have been declining, plenty of consumers have been picking up bagged confectionery, and there’s also a growing appetite for cakes, particularly the local stuff.
“Cake sales have been on the rise. I have Browning’s the Bakers and some branded stock,” he said.
At Bourtreehill, value plays a big part in getting packs into baskets, and Imran has made sure to give the people what they want. The store goes big on PMPs and it’s an approach that seems to be working, even if it does restrict a retailer’s options.
“The pound factor is a big thing for cakes. Any cakes marked at £1 are flying out.
“Everything I stock is price-marked. It’s a hard one as price marking does give the customers a bit of confidence but when I use promotions it’s below the marked price,” he said.