DCS Central, one of the five divisions of DCS Europe, are the UK’s largest distributor of toiletry and household brands and enjoyed a massive 28% sales growth last year. Richard Jorden, commercial director, speaks to Elit Rowland about sustaining round-pound pricing and the group’s venture into foodservice
ER: How important are toiletries in the wholesale channel?
RJ: Certain household products like toothpaste, deodorant, washing up liquid and sanitary products are the epitome of distress purchases – you don’t wait until the weekend to get those, which means independent retailers have a great opportunity to grow the category.
ER: Is price-marking also important?
RJ: It’s really important – last year £15.7m of our revenue was from price-marked products – the majority of which went into cash & carry. Our Enliven brand also works around the £1 price point and has enjoyed 12 years of growth in the independent channel.
ER: How about the ‘round pound’ price point?
RJ: Many suppliers have pulled away from the pound because manufacturing costs have increased, making it difficult to sustain, but we do believe it’s an important area. Consumer expectations have changed over the past two years – the discounters have outgrown all multiple retailers – so ‘pound zones’ are necessary if you want to compete.
ER: With so much pressure on promotions, is developing retail clubs the answer?
RJ: Yes, retail clubs are important and we are working together with wholesalers to develop promotions that can stack up with the likes of Tesco’s, particularly for those retailers interested in more disciplined structures. The work that Booker has done with Premier is outstanding and sets the benchmark – other retailers must strive to keep up.
ER: How are you helping wholesalers and their retail customers to grow sales?
RJ: At the end of March, we’re re-launching our ‘pound zone’ – it will have new point of sale and free-standing-display-units for cash & carry and retailer customers. We are also considering employing a field sales rep team to help retailers with merchandising and core ranging.
ER: Are you entering any new markets this year?
RJ: We’re looking to develop our business in the foodservice channel – we have the contract to supply the UK cash & carry sector with the SC Johnson Professional products. Together with the P&G range it gives us a very strong branded offering, which is particularly important to contract caterers, who only get one chance to get it right.
ER: What’s your advice to wholesalers?
RJ: Focus on getting the right core range offering. We’ve been into so many cash & carries listing SKUs that don’t sell and gather dust. We produce a ‘core range’ book to help our customers with this that is available free-of-charge to all our customers. It’s also important to work collaboratively with brand owners – it’s this relationship that’s made us so successful with our wholesale partners.