West of Scotland food and retail consultancy Ross & Brown targets expansion

ROSS & BROWN, an ambitious west of Scotland retail, food and drink consultancy with over 50 years’ industry experience, is targeting expansion by working in partnership with retailers, wholesalers and suppliers to secure new routes to markets for growing brands.

Craig Brown, left and Simon Ross[1]

The consultancy, established last year by former award-winning supermarket managers Simon Ross and Craig Brown, has already secured listings in 156 KeyStore convenience store outlets for the Paisley-based ice cream brand Porrelli. It has also collaborated with wholesaler JW Filshill and Scotmid to list the Perthshire fruit wine brand Cairn O’Mohr in KeyStore and Scotmid convenience stores across Scotland.

Ross, an award-winning manager who previously worked for Safeway and Sainsbury’s for 27 years, has a passion for local produce. Brown, who has 20-plus years’ experience in the retail sector, was part of a Sainsbury’s team that delivered £12 million additional sales and £2.5 million profit, enhancing the retailer’s Scottish market share and, indeed, achieving its highest ever market share.

“Between us, we have a very wide skills base so are in a position to work with suppliers to help secure new business, advise on new product development and also handle their marketing requirements,” said Brown. “Many small producers, in particular, are diverting all their energy into the manufacturing side of the business and don’t have the time or expertise to focus on important areas such as wider business development.

“We are also keen to work with larger companies where we believe we can bring a different perspective to managing and improving their existing accounts.”

“That’s where we can come in – we offer a wide-ranging consultancy package which could involve managing their relationships with retailers and buyers, identifying new distribution channels, increasing brand awareness, identifying trends and consumer demand for new products, and conducting full business performance reviews.”

Ross added that while the company is currently focusing on Scottish food and drink suppliers it is by no means restricted to focusing solely on Scotland. “We both have a passion for Scottish food and drink so we are keen to work with suppliers to expand distribution south of the Border and in overseas markets,” he said.

“Similarly, our longer-term strategy is to forge relationships with UK brand owners who are interested in developing their businesses in Scotland and throughout the UK.

“Our expertise lies in providing the best value access to premium retailers regionally, nationally and internationally for our clients by understanding their requirements and aspirations, and creating individual tailored packages to fit their particular business needs.”

Current clients include Porrelli, Cairn O’Mohr, Ella Drinks and Supernature cold-pressed rapeseed oil.

Enzo Durante, managing director of Porrelli, commented: “I brought Ross & Brown on board at the start of this year. In a short period of time they have developed my existing retail accounts through their expert analysis and advice, and they have also found new sales channels for Porrelli through their extensive network of industry contacts.

“We have developed an excellent working partnership which benefits my brand across all channels and has delivered a significant return on investment.”

Meanwhile, Ross & Brown has built up a network of senior industry contacts and relationships with a range of multiple and convenience retailers as well as industry organisation Scotland Food & Drink.

In addition to working extensively with the Glasgow-based wholesaler JW Fillshill, Ross & Brown has collaborated with the Clydebank Co-op over the last six months to develop the retailer’s commercial store proposition by introducing Amazon and In-Post Parcel lockers to drive incremental footfall.

“We’ve also worked with the Clydebank Co-op on driving sales, improving profits by focusing on staffing costs, wastage and shrinkage,” said Brown.

  • Ross & Brown is a member of industry organisation Scotland Food & Drink and is supporting the 2015 Year of Food & Drink in Scotland.
  • Simon Ross won The Grocer’s Store Manager of the Year Gold Award in 2010 while Craig Brown was runner-up in 2011.