Trystan Farnworth tells Elit Rowland how Britvic is adapting to changes in wholesale.
Elit Rowland: You’re new to this role. What will you bring to it?
Trystan Farnworth: I’ve been working with Britvic for 10 years and have covered many roles, from national account manager to commercial controller. I spent a year running a joint venture for Britvic in Ireland and I look forward to bringing my experience from this and other roles to the wholesale sector. It’s a tough market to be in, but there are huge opportunities for creative suppliers.
How has Britvic worked with wholesalers to grow sales in the past six months?
There are three main areas we have concentrated on. The first is the introduction of 12-pack formats (down from 24-packs) on best-selling lines such as Pepsi, 7Up and J2O, which has helped to increase shoppers’ confidence. The second is rolling out price-marked packs on some of those lines. The third is logistics – with lots of pack changes going on, we’ve managed to maintain excellent service levels due to joint planning with our customers.
What were Britvic’s main achievements last year?
We are really proud of our financial performance, which is a testament to the work we’ve done: our total turnover for the past financial year was £1.32bn, which was up 4.4% versus the previous year. We are particularly proud of getting our Robinsons Fruit Shoot brand back to pre-recall levels. The kids sub-category is important in impulse, and we invested in promotions and field sales reps to help drive distribution back into outlets. We are grateful to the trade for their support.
What are your plans for the next six months?
There’s lots coming up. First, expect more flavour innovation. Second, expect continued focus on the fast-growing cold ‘hot’ drinks category. Third, expect investment in big marketing campaigns for some of our leading brands in the wholesale channel.
What opportunities do you see for wholesalers?
There are two key things that are getting a lot of interest at the moment: digital media, and foodservice, licensed and leisure opportunities. We are particularly excited about the foodservice opportunity as J2O is the largest packaged drink in the licensed sector after Budweiser. On the digital side, we have just appointed a digital manager who will look at how we can use technology to improve our working relationship with wholesalers.
Are you seeing any influential trends?
Water and ‘water plus’ (flavoured water) now account for 17% of total soft drink sales. We have plans to launch Irish water brand Ballygowan into the market. Still waters are re-emerging as a growth area. We’ve also seen alcohol sales falling since the recession, which is good news for soft drinks.
Can we look forward to any more innovation?
Yes. Pack innovation is as important as brand innovation. Consumers have such varied lifestyles – they want pack formats to fit in with that so we will be launching more innovation in this area specifically for the wholesale market this year.
We’ve seen many cuts to wholesale by suppliers. How will you avoid reducing your service?
We have executed a commercial change programme to give us a simple business model moving forward – we now have an out-of-home team, which means we can unify licensed, foodservice, wholesale and convenience.
My customers are telling me that the lines between these channels are blurring so it’s great to bring expertise from all those sectors under one roof.