LATESTPOSTS

Christmas is Coming…

Posted: 29/06/2015

Christmas Is ComingWell, Christmas is in full swing now at retailers and wholesalers throughout the UK.  Well, not quite, but we have received around 50% of our Christmas orders and there will be a flurry of orders between now and when the schools break up in a few weeks.  In fact in this job, I never manage to quite extract myself from thoughts of Christmas.  Quite sad really isn’t it!

We had our first planning meeting for Christmas this year on Monday 5th January, were planning the range throughout February and March, Christmas Sales Meeting in April and managing the team selling in Christmas and attending a few roadshows throughout the last few months.  Paradoxically once we draw closer to Christmas itself in September and our warehouse has to grow expandable walls, I am much less involved as our excellent operational team take over in despatching the orders to our customers. (more…)

Selling Strategy

Posted: 05/06/2015

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A couple of comments this week from different quarters have caused me to think, and as I was with some retailers at the Association of Independent Stores Food Gift Show this week, generated some conversations there too.  The first was an e-mail from a long-standing customer in London to one of my Regional Account Managers basically saying in a nutshell:  “Thank you for all your service and products over the past 8 + years, but we have decided to change what we are doing, and are going to source products directly from Europe that are exclusive to us in London.  We love your products but we see them in other stores nearby, which you must be supplying, and don’t want to be the same as them.”

It was a much longer e-mail than that, but that was the gist of what they were saying.  I completely understand where they are coming from, and as they have 2-3 stores this strategy may work logistically for them.  (more…)

Work-Life Balance

Posted: 19/05/2015

I was on holiday recently which transitioned into a period of sickness, as coincidentally, I went down with malaria during the holiday, which must be connected to a previous trip to the children’s centre in Kenya earlier this year or even before. The doctors are certainly confused, and I have been extremely frustrated with my normal abundant energy being removed from me as my ravaged red blood cells recover.

Any holiday certainly gives time for reflection, which is why I have always ensured I have had plenty of time out. Apart from anything else others within the business have to pick up what I normally do, which can only have a positive effect on growth for the future. I remember talking to a supplier at our last Supplier Conference (next one coming up 6-7th July this year by the way) who seemed to enjoy telling me he hadn’t had a holiday in 10 years. Something has gone badly wrong there, I would suggest. (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

Exclusivity

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…)

Exclusivity

There is no substitute for meeting people

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…)

There is no substitute for meeting people

The Importance of a Marketing Strategy

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…)

The Importance of a Marketing Strategy

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

promotingsmallerbrands

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