LATESTPOSTS

Exclusivity

Posted: 17/04/2015

There has been some talk recently in wholesaler circles about exclusivity.  To do it or not!  Sometimes wholesalers are portrayed as being dictator-like insisting on control and ultimately world domination.  Believe me, it is not quite like that!

Essentially there are two options for new brands within the speciality food world.  Go with and put all your energies behind one good wholesaler, or spread the business amongst several.  Both can work, but conditions apply for success.

The brands that are with a number of wholesalers that are growing and successful fall into two categories.  Either they are brands that were early into the speciality food sector that gained a good share of the market before it was as large and fragmented as it is now OR they are new brands with large investment  who have enough marketing power to gain traction in the market.  (more…)

There is no substitute for meeting people

Posted: 25/03/2015

After a couple of days at IFE, I am off to Dublin tomorrow for their triennial speed-dating event which puts 100s of buyers in meetings with 100s of Irish producers.  Organised by Bord Bia, it is always a highly productive event and helps towards the £9Billion Irish Food & Drink Export market.  If only one of the parties trying to be part of the incoming UK government had in their manifesto investing more in British Food & Drink Exports.  There is, of course, some money available via UKTI but the amounts involved are paltry compared to what other European governments invest in exporting their country’s food and drink to the world.

However, not all this cash is well spent.  I made the mistake on Sunday morning at IFE of stumbling into the Algerian and Moroccan area of the IFE “Walk the World” area.  It was too dark, there were one or two packets of product on the stands and hardly any exhibitors.  At first I wondered whether a plane from North Africa had been delayed.  (more…)

The Importance of a Marketing Strategy

Posted: 25/03/2015

It’s show-time, folks.  The biennial IFE Show at Excel takes place next weekend onwards for 4 days followed a month later by the Farm Shop & Deli Show, and I am currently in Athens at the second ever Food Expo Greece – disappointingly cold here though!  When selecting products at these shows I am trying to put myself in the shoes of our retail customers.  Of course, no good for us to select products which our customers don’t also love.  It is difficult to put into words, and sometimes you just know you have found a winner.  Most products though need further research on how much the producer is able to support the retailer, with sampling stock, tastings, promotions and whether they have a marketing budget to build their brand.

It amazes me sometimes, how many companies in the speciality food sector aren’t following a strategy in their routes to market.  They simply sell their product to anyone that asks, sometimes at an unsustainable price, and occasionally even where their wholesalers have created the desire for the brand.  (more…)

Gourmet Africa

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Gourmet Africa is the most authentic range of flavours to come from the exciting continent of Africa. These unique products are creating a food revolution from Africa by forging a brand new culinary frontier set to colonise the world of food.

The Gourmet Africa range will be available from April 2015. Taste the range of African BBQ sauces for yourself by visiting the Cotswold Fayre pavilion, stand R90G at the Farm Shop & Deli Show, NEC Birmingham, 20-22 April 2015.

Gourmet Africa

Soar like an eagle

eagleLast week I was back in Kenya at the children’s centre (orphanage and school) that Cotswold Fayre supports on a monthly basis and with our charitable events. At our last ball in Summer 2014, a supplier present, said at the end of the evening that he would like to come with me next time I went. Thinking it was possibly due to the wine consumed, I wasn’t sure whether he was serious, but dropped him a line before Christmas when I knew I was going in February. To my surprise he was still up for it and the best thing about all this is that Laurence Harris is a dairy farmer, so has masses of knowledge to help with the farm I started here 20 months ago.

I met Laurence at Heathrow and discovered he had managed to check onto the plane a solar electric fence, with 50 posts and a kilometre of wire! This already seemed like it was going to be a different trip, and it has proved to be so far! (I may be back by the time you read this as getting a Wi-Fi signal here has its challenges and keeping the electrical devices charged also - thank God for the sun!) (more…)

Soar like an eagle

Promoting Smaller Brands

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At this time of year I often spend time out with my sales team visiting retails, and this year is no exception, and I entered in to a debate yesterday I thought I would share with you. The conversation started from the reference point of a recent survey within the speciality food sector where retailers vote for their favourite brands. Incidentally Cotswold Fayre came out second amongst wholesalers - a remarkable achievement considering our “annus horribilis” in 2014, and puts us in a good position to nab top spot again next year!

However, I digress, back to the top food and drink brands. San Pellegrino was the top soft drink, and Teapigs were the top tea brand - both companies are owned by massive multi-national corporations, Nestle and Tata (Tetley’s) respectively. As independent retailers and wholesalers, would we be stocking brands owned by companies like this? (more…)

Promoting Smaller Brands

Planning for 2015

I am currently in paul_2San Francisco at the Winter Fancy Food Fair, which is not only giving me an opportunity to see what is new in the American and International food world, but also some time to catch up, reflect on 2014 and plan for 2015, after a rather hectic few weeks before Christmas.  Even more manic than normal as I also got married at Christmas!  So now the honeymoon is over and 2015 begins.

In fact, I made a strategic decision before Christmas, that will have a huge impact on my 2015 and allow me to concentrate on the areas of the business that I enjoy and am good at, rather than areas which I can do, but could do better.  So I appointed a Managing Director for Cotswold Fayre, who will be the boss of every department within the business, except product selection, marketing and selling, which I will be involved in more.  (more…)

Planning for 2015

Looking forward to 2015

newsupplierconfIt’s that time to reflect on the year before we finish for Christmas.  Ok retailers, I know you are far too busy to do that as your shops are packed with hungry consumers, but for those of us on the supply end, the madness is nearly over and we can take stock and start planning next year.  I have spent probably a little too long in these ruminations over the last few months reflecting, so time to look forward!

The good news is that from the retailers I have talked to over the last few weeks, after a slow start, many of them seem pleased with Christmas sales to date, and expect to be up year on year when the figures are reviewed after Christmas, which bodes well for the start of next year.  There is nothing like a good Christmas to keep sales going better during the quieter months of the year January and February. (more…)

Looking forward to 2015

Teamwork

november_blogI listened to part of a fascinating programme on Radio Five Live earlier this week, whilst I was driving home from a late night in the office, on what goes on in the changing room of sports teams. Presented by Michael Vaughan, ex England Cricket Captain, there were interviews with international football, rugby and cricket players. In places it was hilarious as Michael Dawson described the England World Cup winning team locker room, where the forwards were head-butting each other, and occasionally requiring stitches before the match, whilst the backs were checking that their hair looked good before they ran out on the pitch.

The serious point though, from this, was to counter the perception that everyone in a sports team are great mates and years after representing their country together they are all round at each other’s houses, and on the phone to each other the whole time. (more…)

Teamwork

Interviews, Recruitment and People

recruitment_nov14I have recently been conducting a number of interviews for various new positions at Cotswold Fayre, and with a wealth of good candidates to choose from, it has made me think again about how to choose the best people to recruit. We probably all have different ways of judging and recruiting our people, which may involve structured interviews, informal interviews, psychometric tests, presentations and others. I have used all these and more in assessing whether candidates’ experience and characteristics will make them a good employee and one that will develop your company.

My current thinking as an owner of an SME, is that the positivity of the person and their ability to fit into the company culture are possibly more important than the candidates’ experience. (more…)

Interviews, Recruitment and People