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