Paul Hill talks to Britvic’s GB wholesale director, Ian Patefield, finding out what Britvic is doing in the wholesale channel
How has Britvic helped wholesalers grow sales in the past 12 months?
The wholesale channel is a key area of focus and route to market for us. We are working closely with wholesale customers and offering them category advice, an extensive range of price-marked packs and a great range of foodservice and licensed products. With our strong portfolio it is great that we can offer the relevant range for any wholesale customer.
What is the greatest challenge that the wholesale industry faces?
The biggest challenge will be sugar, and this won’t change any time soon. Soft drinks is a highly expandable category, therefore with 99% of our GB-owned below or exempt from the Soft Drinks Industry Levy, and 90% of our innovation in 2018 on low- and no-added-sugar products, we are in a great position to support our wholesale customers.
What trends and opportunities are emerging that customers can take advantage of?
Retailers are making quicker and smaller-spend trips to wholesalers, with average spend per trip going down from £941 in 2017 to £858 in 2018, and 51% of retailers now spending £500 or less per trip.
These quicker trips high-light the importance of having impactful communication in depot that make top-up shopping trips easier for retailers and also encourage impulse purchases through stand-out displays. Although spend per trip is dropping, soft drinks significantly overindexes in terms of its share of spend.
What challenges has Britvic had to overcome in the past year?
The Soft Drinks Industry Levy last April was always going to be a challenge for soft drinks manufacturers, and it was interesting to see how it played out.
Manufacturers across the board adapted to the introduction in three ways: product reformulations, pack size reduction, and a shift in marketing and promotional focus to low- and no-sugar variants.
After it was introduced, shoppers turned to low- and no-added-sugar soft drinks.
Not only have we overcome the challenge, we are also supporting wholesalers and their customers with low- and no-added-sugar alternatives.
Are you planning any activity that wholesalers should be aware of?
As we approach summer 2019, we have a number of campaigns on the horizon to help wholesalers and retailers alike to drive sales across a number of segments in the soft drinks category.
Robinsons will continue its support for the Wimbledon Tennis Championships for the 84th year, one of the longest sports sponsorships in history, and we will be activating summer campaigns across key brands such as Pepsi Max and Lipton.
We also have our price-marked pack deals, with two for £1 on 330ml cans, or two for £1.70 on 500ml bottles.
This enables shoppers to mix and match items, and is exclusive to the wholesale and convenience channel.
What advice would you give wholesalers looking to grow soft drink sales?
Stock the right products, as it is important to stock a broad range of branded soft drinks from established segments, as well as water-plus brands. Wholesalers should carry the core range, but be adaptable to other emerging sub-categories such as natural energy to maximise sales.