Cash and carries and delivered wholesalers have a major role to play in helping independent retailers make the most of the Christmas drinks opportunity, says James Middleton, Impulse Channel Director for Pernod Ricard UK. He spoke to Wholesale Manager about the Christmas Drinks opportunity.
Wholesale Manager – First of all, James, what does your job involve day to day?

I’m responsible for setting our strategy, working with our business controllers and meeting with key customers.

WM – What is your day to day involvement with the UK wholesale sector?

I have regular meetings with our key customers to make sure I’m up to date with current marketing trends.

WM – How long have you been at Pernod Ricard? What were you doing before this?

I’ve been here for seven years. Before this I was at Anheuser Busch.

WM – Who are your main wholesale stockists/distributors?

We sell to all the major UK wholesalers and cash and carries. We work with each of our customers to identify the different opportunities.

WM – Who else is on the senior management team with you?

In the impulse channel we have two controllers; one on convenience and one on wholesale. Both have account managers who cover all customers in each channel.

WM – How much involvement do you have with your counterparts in other countries?

We have good cross-market engagement. The UK stands alone, but we discuss best practice with other countries.

WM – In your experience, how does the UK wholesale sector compare with other parts of the world and what could we do to improve?

The UK wholesale sector is pretty vibrant. We’re seeing new growth in local shopping. The impulse sector overall is really strong. One of the major factors is the influence of the leading wholesalers.

WM – What development initiatives do you have under way with the UK wholesale sector?

We have created in-depot visibility with pallet wraps highlighting the key ‘Christmas moments’, which we have identified for wholesalers to use to excite their shoppers.

We also have an independent sector sales force which advises retailers on ranging. We work with wholesalers individually and respond to market opportunities. The key overall message is that premium brands need space in store.

WM – What are the big take home drink trends in the UK market?

Premium brands are on the rise and the spirits market is particularly strong. The move to premium brands is clear: there are also trends to be more experimental, like the rise in cocktails and the use of premium spirits.

We are supporting this trend with Absolut flavours gift packs so that shoppers can experiment for themselves. This also draws upon the other key trend where we are seeing shoppers trade up and drink less but drink better.

WM – What are your predictions for Christmas 2016?

We expect to see a continued trend to premiumisation and gifting. That week between Christmas and New Year, when people are off work and enjoying themselves, is a key opportunity for impulse sector sales.

WM – So here’s the final question – how can wholesalers make it a happy Christmas for their impulse retailer customers?

Too many independents leave it until too late to stock up with premium drinks. What the cash and carries need to do is make their customers aware of the need to be ready and stay stocked all through the Christmas/New Year period.


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