JDE on helping wholesalers cash in on coffee


Helena Drakakis hears about the opportunities that abound in the out-of-home coffee market.

Better Wholesaling: How has JDE helped wholesalers grow sales in the past 12 months?

Andy Dixon: Our business is 100% focused on coffee and 100% focused on professional out-of-home. Our aim is to allow wholesalers to sell more, and we believe we have a portfolio of brands, be that Maxwell House or Kenco Millicano in instant to roasting ground coffees, that do that. We have expertise around planograms, merchandising and selling the appropriate product to the appropriate customer, as well as driving the right promotional strategy. And we’ve allocated extra resources to that support with four new regional account managers.

BW: What is the greatest challenge the industry currently faces?

AD: Before we start talking about commodity and price inflation, you’ve got National Living Wage, pensions and business rates and more, that are impacting the industry. There is a constant calculation to make from supplier to wholesaler to end-customer, so that margins aren’t squeezed. We are consistently trying to offer value for money. 

BW: What trends and opportunities are emerging that customers can take advantage of?

AD: The coffee shop culture has taken hold; customers want better quality in more formats. We also can’t ignore the health debate and discussions around ethical sourcing. Driving a premium message is key, but also in environments like workplaces or healthcare, it’s about offering the best possible quality in that environment. 

BW: What challenges has JDE had to overcome in the past year? 

AD: We are not even two years old as a business, so it’s been about getting ourselves to a position where we can add value to our customers. We’ve had commercial targets to meet, but we’ve wanted to balance those with great value and great service. We would have liked to have moved quicker with a new team and a new focus, but we have taken time to get it right.

BW: What’s JDE’s greatest achievement over the past year?

AD: Getting a new team in place that ticks all the boxes. We’ve done a lot of internal work to get the right people in, and the first manifestation of that work was our Maxwell House Professional relaunch which we did in early 2017. We talked about painting the town blue with the brand’s signature colour, and after we spread that word, we saw double-digit growth in January and February.

BW: What advice would you give wholesalers looking to grow sales in coffee?

Wholesalers must choose appropriate ranges that play across the value tiers. Also, whether it’s online, in-depot or in-brochure, wholesalers must clearly communicate their range. And, they need to work with the right partners who can give them the range, advice and support in the coffee category that helps suppliers and wholesalers sell more.

BW: What would you like to see happening in wholesale in the next 12 months?

Some wholesalers are at the start of their journey and need to get the basics right in range and display. Then, there are others who have the range, but the category segmentation isn’t right. We work with all wholesalers to fix the basics, and to get the range in place and merchandised in a logical fashion across all platforms. At the category leader end of the spectrum, it then becomes about sharing data, joint aspiration and being clear on the size of the prize in the coffee category.

BW: Are you planning any activity that wholesalers should be aware of?

There are a number of upcoming brand activities that will be announced, but what we want to do is set an aspiration of where we can go and what we can do. What wholesalers can expect from us is consistency of communication and consistency of presence – we’re not going to be here today, gone tomorrow. 

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Helena Drakakis is a journalist for betterWholesaling. Liaising with some of the leading suppliers and industry experts, she aims to bring wholesalers the best advice, latest news and inspiration.


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