We spoke to Paul Hargreaves, chief executive officer at Cotswold Fayre to discuss how wholesalers can increase sales during festive periods.
What actions and steps do you take to capitalise on profitable periods throughout the year? Can you name examples?
Three answers to this: planning, planning and planning! To maximise on these profitable times of year is hard work, but well worth all the time spent. Seasonal products are on top of the regular all-year-round lines, without all the extra costs of distribution and servicing the account, which means extra profit.
Take Christmas for example: in December, we analyse sales for that year and only keep the best 50% SKUs for the following year, then look for more products in the categories that performed better than the previous year. This way, we are capturing the trends. Our Christmas range is finalised by mid-March and the catalogue printed in April with the sales team spending most of their working days on Christmas for May, June, July and the first half of August.
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How important is your work with suppliers during these periods? Do they advise and lead on how you should operate during specific periods?
We work in close partnership with suppliers throughout and will make recommendations on products for the following year based on sales on the same season the previous year. In 2020 and 2021, we have had to cancel our travelling Christmas roadshows, but hopefully, we will be back to these in 2022.
For these, we set up a large showroom in a hotel wedding suite with all the Christmas products in catalogue order around the room and around 20-25 suppliers also present tasting and talking about their products. This way retailers have the best of both worlds. They obtain a degree of connection with producers and the convenience of having all the stock delivered in one delivery. Close collaboration with our suppliers is clearly important here.
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Can you names specific examples of methods you’ve tried that have had a positive effect on your business for certain months?
Much of the all year round sales come in via our website and catalogues. However, it is more important with seasonal events such as Easter and Christmas to get samples of the products in front of customers. The visual appearance and product merchandising are more important during festive seasons.
We also offer bulk deals on certain popular Christmas lines, which gives the retailers extra margin or the ability to do a good deal for their customers for larger displays of certain brands. Again visual impact is important here as is the ability of our suppliers to reward retailers who buy into their brand.