The Big Buyers: Sugro

Philip Jenkins talks about the promotional work Sugro is doing for its members

philip jenkins
Philip Jenkins, Managing Director, Sugro
How have you improved your service to members in the past year?

The infrastructure of Sugro allows wholesalers to grow and develop business in areas where they couldn’t by themselves. One of the benefits we have provided is better promotional structures – retail development and technology are all areas where negotiable benefits cannot be achieved unless under the umbrella of a buying group. 

We provide promotions for wholesalers and retailers through our retail group, but also business development, working front of house with wholesalers. We go out to customers with the reps, as well as co-ordinating category development or even supplier account development to enhance the commercial tools for members.

Where are you seeing growth? 

Turnover. This is coming not only through new members but by growing business for many of our members through promotional activity and field work with our business development team.

What’s been the major challenge to your business?

The aggressive climb of the value proposition. Fortunately, we have been running a value programme, which has helped Sugro and its members weather a difficult storm in the marketplace.

Fast facts

£870m group turnover

74 members

1,300 stores operating promotions

S Stores and Nearbuy retail fascia

What development opportunities are there for wholesalers?

The opportunities for the future are technology-based. But improving independent retailers’ ranging with better banding that reflects the true consumer market is critical.

What trends are you seeing in the convenience market?

Retailers are becoming more interested in using technology for information, to place orders and to communicate with customers. It will be crucial for wholesalers to ensure they have the ability to connect with retailers in this way in the future to enhance service levels. 

We are also seeing a trend towards full value, which will gather pace as range distribution becomes more critical. Promotional incentives for retailers will always play a part but following through to consumers and carrying the full range will become a prerequisite for members.

What is Sugro’s biggest strength?

We are recognised as best in market for the promotional work we do for members. Whether the main promotional structure or a multi­pack value promotion, it is the driving force for our members’ business. We think that marketing helps to produce the shop window for customers. 

We also provide over-rider structures and preferential terms for wholesalers, which is fundamentally important to the financial security of all of our members. 

Finally, we work closely with our members to develop business locally, providing solutions that bring them up to date with technological developments.

What other support do you offer members?

Sugro runs training sessions for members’ sales forces that involve days out during which they take orders and deal with customers. We establish the sales planning stages and assist reps in reviewing the customers and planning the meetings. We also run training sessions at the depot that include role playing covering every eventuality. 

Following this training, we’ve seen sales from on-the-road reps increase by 30% and a permanent step change in the way they do business.

What are the biggest challenges to your business?

The introduction of new tobacco legislation and requirements for ingredient information to be on all product labelling. These will both result in the establishment of new systems and databases, which for medium and small wholesalers is a huge challenge.

We will do our best to support our members through legislative change, which continues to throw unreasonable costs into our sector, the greatest of which falls on the smaller businesses.


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