Martyn Fisher discusses brand plans with Matt Gouldsmith, channel director for wholesale at leading soft drinks supplier Lucozade Ribena Suntory.

How has LRS helped wholesalers grow sales in the past 12 months?

It has been a pivotal year as we prepared for the soft drinks industry levy (SDIL) in April. As well as future-proofing our top-selling brands through reformulation, we provided in-depot advice for retailers in multiple languages to help them prepare for the changes ahead.

Looking ahead, we have just launched an exclusive in-depot competition for independent retailers, with £5,000 cash up for grabs every week from now until the end of September. This is a great opportunity for wholesalers to encourage extra sales during the summer period.

What trends are emerging that customers can take advantage of?

The continued consumer interest in leading healthier lifestyles. We took an industry-leading position in November 2016 to reformulate our core brands to contain less than 5g of sugar per 100ml. Not only does this allow wholesalers to offer retailers the healthier choices their shoppers are looking for, but it also means our core portfolio is completely unaffected by the SDIL now that it is in force.

What challenges has LRS had to overcome in the past year?

The fast-paced nature of the category means we face new challenges every day – that is partly why I love my job! The SDIL is, of course, the biggest change in the past year, but we invested significantly to ensure our brands are fit for the future. 

What is LRS’ greatest achievement in the past year?

We are proud to have supported consumers in making healthier options available through product innovation – such as Lucozade Sport FitWater – and reducing the sugar content across our core portfolio. I think it is an important achievement not only in our company’s history, but in protecting the future of our wholesale and retail customers’ businesses.

What would you like to see happen in wholesaling in the next 12 months?

In the coming months, I would like to see our wholesale customers capitalise on summer soft drink sales and our competition! In a typical year, the soft drinks category sees an uplift of more than 13% from May to September. This is an unmissable opportunity to make the most of this increased demand and see an uplift mirrored in-depot.

Are you planning any activity of which wholesalers should be aware?

We just launched our most exciting activation in wholesale ever. From the beginning of this month until the end of September, we are running an independent retailer competition on nine of our biggest SKUs, with a total of 

£60,000 cash up for grabs. Retailers simply enter the details on the shrink-wrap of various cases of Lucozade Energy, Lucozade Sport and Ribena to the website for a chance to win £5,000 every week.

For wholesalers, this is a huge opportunity to increase the sales of the top-selling soft drinks in-depot, particularly with the warmer weather driving shoppers into stores. We are providing extensive point of sale material to encourage retailers to stock up for the chance to win, so depot managers should ensure aisles are full throughout summer to make the most of this opportunity!

What advice would you give wholesalers looking to grow sales in this category?

The easiest way to grow sales is to encourage retail customers to stock up for the chance to win cash with our biggest SKUs! The summer season is the most popular time of year for soft drinks – so wholesalers should stock up to make the most of the demand.

Read more: How to succeed in the soft drinks category


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