Working Together: SBF GB&I and Lioncroft Wholesale

Paul Hill finds out how SBF GB&I & Lioncroft Wholesale are working together in the soft-drinks category

Soft drinks has always been important to the wholesale channel and it is now a category that brings with it a £1bn(1) opportunity over the next five years. As a category leader, Suntory Beverage & Food GB&I (SBF GB&I) was recently in Lioncroft Wholesale’s Aston depot to offer its expert advice to the wholesaler.

“Wholesale remains a key channel for us and one we love working in,” explained Andrew Pheasant, head of regional accounts at SBF GB&I. “We see plenty of opportunity for growth for soft drinks across wholesale as we head into the post-Covid landscape.”

Darren Pugh, senior trading controller at Lioncroft, added: “It’s fantastic to have SBF GB&I here to help guide us in the soft-drinks category. You can’t stand still – we’re always looking for valuable tips and advice that will help drive sales and help us educate our retail customers.”

SBF GB&I presented Lioncroft with data and detail on the latest trends in the soft-drinks market, and how they can capitalise on these in depot. Pheasant explained how wholesalers should make sure they stock a range of options to enable shoppers to find the right drink for them throughout the year.

“We know that the five must-stock highest-value segments – Carbonates, Energy, Water,
Juice and Sport – contribute to more than 85.5%(2) of soft drink sales, for example,” he said.

“Wholesalers can grow sales by making sure they put the right drinks in the right places so their retail customers can find the best sellers easily.

Carbonated soft drink sales grew 40% last year (10)

“In other depots we’ve seen examples of how relaying a fixture according to format and in order of best sellers can increase sales of certain categories by more than 90%. By blocking sports and energy by need state – starting with stimulants, flowing into sports, then energy and finally natural energy – customers will be able to easily find the right drink for the right occasion,” he added.

He went on to describe the impact Covid has had on soft drinks. Total sales are up 2.2%(3) and within this, energy drinks are up 4.2%(4), carbonated soft drink sales have grown 40%(5) in the last year, and flavoured carbs also grew 7.1%(6) during the pandemic.

Furthermore, price-marked soft drinks are growing at a fast rate, up 16% year on year, accounting for 60%(7) of total soft-drinks sales in symbols and independents.

“It’s been great running through our insight with the Lioncroft team. By identifying fundamental pieces of data and highlighting key consumer-buying motivations, we can really help Lioncroft and its retail customers tap into the huge category opportunity,” concluded Pheasant.

Energy and sports drinks account for 30% of total soft drinks sales in convenience (9)






01 Focus on range – Wholesalers should be aware of the drinks their retail customers are looking for. Focusing on core categories can really help maximise soft drink sales. Energy and sports drinks account for 30%(11) of total soft drinks sales in convenience, so it’s an important segment for any retailer’s chiller and thus any wholesaler’s shelves, especially in the summer.

02 Formatting is key – The key for wholesalers is to have suitable pack sizes available to ensure they have the right product for the right occasion. Drink-later formats are growing by 8%(12); and multipacks have seen growth of 18.1%(13) over the last year. The SBF GB&I portfolio reflects this – driven by a range of NPD, we have seen impressive growth of 9.1%(14) in Lucozade Energy’s drink-later portfolio.

03 Pay attention to seasons – Events, seasons and special occasions are a really great way to engage and drive sales. This summer we will see some big sporting events which will engage the general public. A normal summer usually results in a 10-12% uplift in soft drink sales. With 60% more people holidaying in the UK in 2021, there’s a £160M opportunity that can be unlocked.


For further information please visit Suntory Beverage & Food GB&I: Overview | LinkedIn

1SBF GB&I Category research, 2020,
2EXT IRI, Symbols & Indies, latest 52 week data ending 24.11.19,
3EXT IRI, MarketPlace, GB, Value Sales, latest 52 week data to 21.02.21,
4EXT IRI, MarketPlace, GB, Value Sales, latest 52 week data to 21.02.21,
5IRI MPF Data to 23.03.20, IRI SL Data to 5/5/20,
6EXT IRI, MarketPlace GB, Value, latest 13 weeks to 26.07.20 vs YA,
7IRI MPF Symbols and Indies, GB, latest 52 week data ending 26.07.20,
8SBF GB&I Category research, 2020,
9EXT1 IRI, Convenience, GB, latest 52-week data ending 22.11.20,
10IRI MPF Data to 23.03.20, IRI SL Data to 5/5/20,
11EXT1 IRI, Convenience, GB, latest 52-week data ending 22.11.20,
12IRI SL Data latest 8 week data to 17.05.20 (Total Drink Later change vs. YA),
13EXT IRI Marketplace GB, Value Sales, Latest 52 weeks to 21.02.21,
14EXT IRI MarketPlace, GB, Drink Later, latest 52 week data ending 22.11.20
Avatar photo
Paul Hill is the Editor of Better Wholesaling. He can be found on Twitter at @BW_PaulHill, or contacted via and 07960935659.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.