Helena Drakakis finds out about Weetabix’s strategy for the wholesale channel in 2017.
BetterWholesaling: How has Weetabix helped wholesalers grow sales in the past 12 months?
Darryl Burgess: Our strategy is simple. We focus on offering the right space for the right products. Products that are in decline are often given too much shelf space, so we ensure that our wholesale partners are clear on what the top-sellers are.
BW: What is the greatest challenge the industry currently faces?
That presents a huge sales opportunity for retailers and foodservice operators, but also represents a challenge for traditional cereals. We look to identify trends early and invest in innovation to meet shopper needs. Launching our Weetabix On The Go drink was a direct response to this insight and taps into the trend for convenient, yet delicious morning meals.
BW: What trends and opportunities are emerging that wholesalers can take advantage of?
DB: Staying up-to-date with the latest shopper trends and offering products in high demand is key for wholesalers to improve sales. Protein cereals is the fastest growing segment in the category, up 7.3% due to a 40% rise in consumers looking to add more protein to their diet. Weetabix owns a 54% share of this market, with our Protein biscuits recently taking home a 2017 Product of the Year Award, as voted by more than 12,000 households.
Cross-category promotion is effective in retail, but remains challenging in depot. However, if there is an opportunity to dual site, then wholesalers should do so.
BW: What challenges has Weetabix had to overcome recently?
DB: Weetabix is the only major manufacturer to grow value (+3%) and volume (+4%) sales in a declining category. Reduced ad spend and the ongoing sugar debate continue to be a challenge for many cereal manufacturers.
At Weetabix, we continue to invest in marketing campaigns and we are well positioned to maximise our nutrition credentials.
BW: What is Weetabix’s greatest achievement over the past year?
DB: Weetabix has consistently bucked the market, as our innovation and focus on nutritionally strong products has increased sales of our brands such as Weetabix and Alpen.
We have recently announced a £30m capital investment programme across our UK manufacturing sites to significantly increase our production capability by 2018, matching volumes with the rising sales of our iconic cereal biscuits. The investment comes off the back of our market share for cereals and drinks rising from 15.3% to 16.4% in the past year.
BW: What advice would you give wholesalers looking to grow sales in cereals this year?
DB: Cash & carries should focus on a core range of bestsellers. Stock the right range and use off-shelf activity, including PoS, supported by strong promotional offers that link with current advertising. We currently have a Weetabuddies marketing campaign running in depots aligned to our consumer marketing activity, which is proving particularly effective.
BW: What would you like to see happening in wholesale this year?
DB: Our plan includes focusing on a core range of Weetabix branded products, but we want to work even closer with wholesalers on a range in the correct formats and right case and pack sizes aligned to what customers want.
Value creation is also a major focus, and we work hard to ensure that our pricemarked packs offer competitive shared margins.
BW: Are you planning any activity that wholesalers should be aware of?
DB: Exciting upcoming innovation includes a new Weetabix On The Go drinks PMP, and a variation on our yellow box product, which we are expecting to drive some exciting category growth.
Darryl Burgess is head of Convenience, Wholesale and Foodservice at Weetabix.