Country Range Group ‘on track to do £1bn by 2026’

Data, sustainability and own-brand continue to be integral parts of Country Range Group’s growth strategy, as it asserts its position as an organisation for ‘true independents’.

Martin Ward: ‘We lost a couple of true independents this year, but we didn’t have to wait long to replace them.’

The benefits that “true independent wholesalers” bring to the marketplace were highlighted several times over at Country Range Group’s annual exhibition and conference, held last month at Manchester Central Convention Complex.

The organisation’s chief executive Martin Ward summarised: “We work closely with the customers. We’re dynamic. We’re cost-effective. And we go that extra mile. Whether you’re a supplier or a customer, we’re easy to deal with. And we care.”

Ward was making a point to reinforce his assertion that not all buying groups are equal: “One of our major national competitors is buying independent wholesalers and then telling customers and suppliers that they’re remaining independent. To me, it all sounds a little bit disingenuous. All of our suppliers and all of our customers know that they’re not independent businesses, and they can’t possibly operate in the way that we do.”

He added: “We lost a couple of our true independents this year, but we didn’t have long to wait to replace them with a couple of really fantastic wholesalers [Harlech Foodservice and Brook Street Foodservice].”

Over 500 delegates and 100 exhibitors attended CRG’s annual exhibition and conference, and orders worth over £3 million were placed on the day.

Ward told the audience that CRG, which is in year two of a five-year plan, is still on track to do one billion pounds in turnover by 2026. “By the end of the year, the group is on track to turn over in the region of £800 million, which is an absolutely fantastic achievement,” he added.

Integral parts of the growth strategy are data, sustainability and the Country Range brand, which is now worth over £150 million in sales value, encompasses over 700 lines, and has benefited from significant investment.

Emma Holden: ‘Quality is the core brand truth for the Country Range own-brand.’

Head of marketing Emma Holden explained that, following extensive research, a new brand strategy was developed. “The one thing that came out time and time again in the research was the word quality, and that really is our core brand truth.

“The other findings from the research were that the Country Range name would stay, but everything else needed a refresh – from the logo to every piece of packaging across our entire range. We needed a compelling positioning strapline, something different to the repetitive straplines out there across our competitor marketplace and something that was focused on our customer, the most important person. There was also a universal positive reaction to the idea of introducing a premium range of products.”

CRG has therefore relaunched its own-brand portfolio with a new logo, new packaging and a new strapline, ‘Created for the makers’, which reflects the reason why the brand exists – to meet the needs of caterers who take pride in making food for people.

In line with the group’s focus on sustainability, the brand refresh is being rolled out in phases to ensure that there is no wastage of the current packaging.

The Country Range brand has a new look and now includes a Signature premier tier.

CRG has also introduced a new premium tier of products under the Country Range Signature brand. This is aimed at chefs cooking for special occasions or looking to add some fine-dining style to their menu, and features premium ingredients and products from across the globe. The packaging has a silver logo to differentiate the lines from the rest of the own-brand range.

In addition, said Holden, CRG took the opportunity to develop a value tier of products to meet current marketplace requirements. “It’s called Catering Essentials, but it is not Country Range Catering Essentials,” she pointed out. “It is a separate brand in order to not devalue Country Range.”

Holden announced that, with her marketing colleagues and development chef Paul Dickson, she will shortly embark on a Member Roadshow, visiting members across the UK and Ireland over three months to deliver personalised presentations on the Country Range brand and product tastings.

Holden also revealed that the 10th Anniversary of ‘An Evening With’ the Country Range Group, which includes the organisation’s annual awards, will take place in December at Abbey Road Studios in London.

• A charity raffle held at CRG’s annual exhibition and conference raised £2,014.50 for Hospitality Action. In addition, CRG worked with FareShare to ensure that all the surplus food from the exhibition was redistributed to charities and community groups helping people facing food insecurity.


Published Date: June 13, 2023
Category: Wholesale Industry News