Interview: Premier Foods

Maximilian Schwerdtfeger speaks to Courtney Lewis, director for independent wholesale and convenience at Premier Foods

MS: Tell us about your role at Premier Foods and why you are at Bestway with Sharwood’s
CL: We’re celebrating National Curry Week this year by taking Sharwood’s on the road and I am really excited to talk to you about the brand and how utilising key calendar events and occasions can help drive sales. National Curry Week is a great opportunity to talk to wholesalers and retailers, and share valuable insights about how together, we can continue to provide shoppers with great tasting and affordable meals. Despite cutting down on spend and eating out less, shoppers want quality products, therefore the meal at home occasion is key to unlocking opportunities in this climate. National Curry Week is a great way to talk about at home meal occasions such as big night in, and help retailers provide options for consumers to recreate a restaurant meal at home.

MS: Do you think customers are buying more products together, as opposed to individually, in order to make that occasion at home?
CL: Yes, the meal for tonight occasion has soared in popularity over the last few years due to people eating out less. Therefore, consumers look to replicate the restaurant experience at home. This includes all the components for a tasty and filling curry such as cooking sauces, side dishes like Sharwood’s naan breads, poppadoms and their choice of protein etc.  Retailers should make this as easy as possible for shoppers and a quick and simple way to achieve this is by advertising these ingredients together as part of a ‘meal for tonight’ offering. Another important factor is that shoppers are time poor, so when they go into a store, retailers have a bigger role to play. By displaying a meal solution with everything they need, it helps them create the quality, restaurant experience at home whilst driving basket spend in store from the purchase of multiple products.

Courtney Lewis, Director for Independent Wholesale and Convenience, Premier Foods

MS: What has been the reaction and how can retailers engage with the initiative?
CL: Within independents, it’s a big opportunity and one we are particularly excited about. So far, we’ve had a really positive reaction and it’s great to see retailers engaging with the Sharwood’s brand. By bringing the brand to life in-store through engaging POS and displays, retailers can encourage shoppers to explore the category and try new formats and flavours. We also have our grocery partner’s website where we can share information with retailers. Meal at home occasions are an exciting opportunity for the independents to trial something new with their customers.

MS: What about new flavours or other innovations?
CL: Within the Sharwood’s portfolio we have a breadth of products, but we know that within independent convenience stores, space can be limited, so it is really important that they have access to popular and traditional flavours consumers know and love. During National Curry Week we are serving Sharwood’s balti, tikka masala and korma and we recommend that retailers should stock these core products, and maximise visibility around key calendar moments.

MS: Have there been any issues on the supply chain side?
CL: Our teams are doing an excellent job at navigating external challenges and wholesalers can expect to find our Sharwood’s products on shelf as usual.

MS: What are your plans following this?
CL: The key is repetition. At Premier Foods we are passionate about the sector and pride ourselves on being a multiple format, customer centric business. We will use this campaign to form part of a longer objective where we can talk to retailers, help educate them on the opportunities that cooking at home and with Sharwood’s presents, and support them with what customers are looking for. This is a test and learn for the sector, and we are really keen to help retailers explore how best to communicate with customers in store, through the use of eye-catching displays and offering the right products during key sales periods.

MS: Are there any other initiatives retailers should launch in-store that you would recommend?
CL: Retailers do a brilliant job and it’s all about how they communicate to their customers. By continuing to offer the right products in line with demand for quality and convenience (this includes accompaniments), along with stocking up ahead of key calendar events and opportunities that meal at home or big night in occasions offer, an increase in sales is highly likely. These tips will help to increase basket spend by bringing all elements of a restaurant meal to the dining table.



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