Paul Hill talks to Republic Technologies’ general sales manager, Gavin Anderson, about the wholesaler’s plans for the industry.
How has Republic Technologies helped wholesalers grow sales in the past 12 months?
The introduction of branded bays has been instrumental to our wholesale partners growing their papers, filters and accessories business in the past year.
As the tobacco ban continues to affect cigarette sales, and growing numbers of consumers turn to roll-your-own, branded bays have contributed to some wholesalers recording double-digit growth.
What trends and opportunities are emerging that customers can take advantage of?
The rapid growth of unbleached rolling papers, such as OCB Virgin, has helped to drive growth in the papers market, which is now worth almost £100m. Pack formats containing tips are also driving category growth.
However, maintaining availability is as important as ever. Wholesalers are also well placed to capitalise on the major trend towards multipacks.
What challenges in wholesale has Republic Technologies had to overcome in the past year?
Market consolidation has brought both challenges and opportunities. The demise of P&H has changed the landscape; this has resulted in us changing the way we operate. We now work more closely than ever with many customers, which is driving growth.
What would you like to see happen in wholesale in the next 12 months?
I would like more wholesalers to embrace the category and to truly recognise the contribution it could make to their business through more space, more focus and a realisation of the profit opportunities presented by tobacco accessories. Our wholesale partners who already do this have seen growth far ahead of the rest of the market.
Are you planning any activity that wholesalers should be aware of?
We’ll be running our annual wholesale awards, which promote and acknowledge best practice display and merchandising of tobacco accessories in-depot. We’re also driving consumer demand for OCB Virgin with ‘city blitzes’, which involves us calling on retailers in major conurbations to make them aware of the surge in consumer demand for environmentally-friendly roll-your-own accessories.
We’ve also renewed our Cook’s Matches partnership with celebrity chef Tom Kerridge, and our Zig-Zag partnership with the Academy Music Group continues, which includes sponsorship of the smoking music venues.
What advice would you give wholesalers looking to grow sales in the tobacco accessories category?
Wholesalers should provide enough space to highlight both key SKUs and NPD, and advise their retail customers to offer a strong range of papers, filters and accessories to signpost tobacco.
Also, matches and lighters are not restricted items, so moving them outside of the tobacco room can result in extra sales.