Better Wholesaling: How has Nestlé Cereal Partners (NCP) helped wholesalers to grow sales in the past 12 months?
Julie Aird: By focusing on our core range and strong price-marked packs (PMPs), we’ve improved margins. That core range is backed by multi-million-pound media campaigns, and consumer deals. We’ve had a field-sales team delivering to retailers out of cash & carries, and we’re doing transfer orders with wholesalers as part of our category relay scheme. We’re proud that we don’t have a minimum order quantity, so wholesalers know that they can stock the best range without affecting space or cash flow.
BW: What is the greatest challenge the industry currently faces?
JA: There have to be improved supply chain efficiencies, with the biggest drivers of profit growth in grocery and retail. In the future there will be extra stakeholders and more levels of complexity, so it’s as important to get the supply chain right in wholesale as in any other channel. The industry also has to make itself more knowledgeable about what consumers need, to ensure sales and choices run all the way through the chain.
BW: What opportunities are emerging in wholesale for customers to be aware of?
JA: Health is one trend and Nestlé has had a consistent plan over the past few years to reduce sugar and salt levels. For example, we’ve brought out a low-sugar Cheerios pack and we’ve also entered the gluten-free market with Nestlé Go Free, so we are always looking at consumer health requirements as well as the legislative ones. The wholesale channel also needs to focus more on the development of digital, online ordering, marketing and data.
BW: What challenges has NCP had to overcome recently?
JA: Our focus has been on growing the ready- to-eat cereal category and doing that to grow our value share.
Our challenges have probably been more internal, as we’ve had a lot of projects focused on new case-sizing, promotional strategy, extending the PMP range, and so on. Assembling a great, knowledgeable team to deliver all of that has been a challenge!
BW: What’s NCP’s greatest achievement this year?
JA: We launched a retailer-focused website, www.cerealsuccess.co.uk, that deals with the category. That’s been very successful, with 22,000+ visitors, including retailer sign-up to monthly email newsletters and prize draws. We also brought out a new PMP range and we’re set to launch a new wide-ranging promotional PMP strategy.
BW: What advice would you give wholesalers looking to grow cereal sales next year?
JA: Get the optimal range on the shelf. It sounds simple, but having the correct range is key. Cereals are a repertoire category – consumers have between four and six cereals in their cupboards at any one time. Using category advice and data, wholesalers must stock that choice.
BW: What would you like to see happening in wholesale in the next 12 months?
JA: There needs to be further education around the importance of the cereal category. In wholesale, it’s rarely seen as a focus, but we’ve spoken to wholesalers and retailers about cereal’s importance in c-stores. Wholesalers need to be open to providing accurate and robust data to help suppliers invest in the right things that deliver growth for all.
BW: Are you planning any activity of which wholesalers should be aware?
JA: Q4 sees the launch of our promotional PMPs in our core range. It will be supported by deep price promotions, but we’re maintaining excellent retailer and wholesaler margins, and they’ll be available for a short time only to drive purchase and build base. Hopefully consumers will love the price and retailers will enjoy the rate of sale. Secondly, we’re bringing to market a tertiary (value) branded cereal to give consumers even more choice, the Harvest Home range.