Trystan Farnworth tells Helena Drakakis that it’s about to invest in some of its smaller brands
BW: How has Britvic helped wholesalers grow sales in the past 12 months?
TF: We’ve had a simple, yet relentless focus on winning in the fastest growing areas of the market. Single serves are the growth engine of impulse soft drinks, accounting for 67% of value growth, and at Britvic, we are growing at more than four times this rate.
We’ve also done a lot of work with wholesalers to help them capitalise on new products.
Teisseire coffee syrups can add huge value to the coffee category and we’re delighted with the performance of our re-launched 330ml carbonates range, including new Pepsi Max and 7Up Free.
What is the greatest challenge you face?
It’s a thrill to be part of such a dynamic and well-invested category. Soft drinks is now the top FMCG category overall, as well as the top footfall driver to depots. This, in itself, can be a real challenge, as well as a privileged opportunity.
The rate at which consumers are changing what they drink and where they drink is rapid. So, choosing what opportunities to prioritise can be difficult and it’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to do too many things at once. On the flip side, less isn’t always more so it’s important to find a balance.
What trends and opportunities are emerging in wholesale?
Consumers moving towards sugar-free is the biggest macro trend but it doesn’t get the focus it deserves. Too frequently, when I speak to wholesalers and ask them about their strategy, their response is: “We just follow the market.”
To thrive as well as survive, lead don’t follow. We’re trialling some interesting initiatives with a few wholesale partners at the moment to bring the opportunity alive, so watch this space.
What major challenges have you overcome in the past year?
The volume headwind caused by the relatively poor summer last year caused an unhelpful pressure this year. Despite this, we’re very excited about the summer and the line of sporting and other events for 2016 is second-to-none.
What has been your greatest achievement in the past year?
I’m particularly proud of the way my team and our customers work in increasingly collaborative ways. This has been reflected in our AGS (Advantage Group Survey) wholesale scores this year. Within the whole FMCG space, Britvic personnel were rated top, as was our collaborative approach to joint business planning.
What advice would you give to wholesalers looking to grow sales?
Make sure you offer the best ‘wrap around’ service you can and do everything to encourage your customers to sign up to it. By ‘wrap around’ service, I mean something beyond a great range, price, delivery and service.
In impulse wholesaling, the best example of this is a quality symbol club offering. Symbols are driving growth in the impulse market versus a declining independent sector. By over-investing with wholesalers who want to grow and invest in their symbol clubs, Britvic now enjoys the second biggest supplier status in this market, with a 16% share and growing at 21% year on year.
What would you like to see happening in wholesale in the next 12 months?
Above all else, I’d like to see a concerted effort against unnecessary price deflation. Neither supplier nor wholesaler can solve this in isolation – it requires a partnership. Everyone wants ‘good’ pricing but the sheer volume of promotional activity, as well as the lack of genuine evaluation to weed out ineffective price and promotional tactics, is hurting the value chain unnecessarily and is impacting the ability to invest sustainably.
What are you planning that wholesalers should be aware of?
Wholesalers can expect to see a big investment in all our top brands, with Robinsons and Wimbledon, as well as Pepsi and Champions League, being just two examples. They can also expect a few surprises this year that will awaken a few sleeping giants in our portfolio. One we’re really excited about is Purdey’s, our multi-vitamin juice drink, for which we’ve just announced our biggest ever marketing investment – Idris Elba will lend his name and image to the brand.