Friday, 12 February 2016

BOGOF R.I.P. - A sideways swipe at waste?


With Asda re-discovering its Walmart roots by ditching multi-buys, and Sainsbury’s clearing the multi-buy shelves by Summer, Tesco and Morrisons will not risk looking odd by comparison, meaning 'Hello EDLP....'

Eliminating multi-buys, means less scope for waste, matching purchase with need, simpler pricing helping shoppers identify real value, prices moving to EDLP, with Stelios establishing new levels of Low @25p…

In fact, best to see it as part of a war on waste, coupled with a move to supermarkets donating excess produce to charity, people eating less, in a move to healthier living…

Meanwhile, consumer-shoppers have to sharpen their savviness by getting their heads around Unit Pricing - you really think they all understand it? - with supermarkets playing their part by emphasising price per unit, AND PRINTING IT BIGGER…

Finally, joining all the above dots, NAMs, having been spared the task of trying to make a multi-buy seem profitable, now have to focus on growing at the expense of competition within the resulting flatline - or even falling - demand in many categories…

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Confusing promos morphing into savvy-shopper alienation

If making promos difficult to compare is the objective, then stakeholder efforts are working well, in that Watchdog deal-quizzing of consumers found that just one in 50 was able to choose the cheapest option....

If driving sales in flat-line markets is the objective, then, according to the Daily Mail, then such confusion is causing shoppers to spend an extra £1,200/annum.

                                                                                                                    Source: The Daily Mail

What no one is measuring is the negative impact on brand equity amid the creeping suspicion of being misled. Even more serious is the fact that, in the absence of effective self-regulation - last year, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it had found evidence of misleading supermarket promotions following investigations into a super-complaint submitted to the regulator by consumer watchdog Which? - the government could intervene in order to clarify the position for shoppers...

Think bureaucracy and 'government language' to explore the implications.

How much better if suppliers and retailers worked together to attempt to retrieve some of their respective brand equity by aiming at clarity and sustainable like-with-like comparison of promos, before the government is forced to assist...

Monday, 8 February 2016

Power play in supplier-retailer negotiation – how to level the playing-field in 2016

Power play in business is not exclusively about dealings between suppliers and retailers. In fact, it is more about interactions between large and smaller organisations…

Equally, we need to distinguish between being fair in our business dealings, and securing our fair share in negotiated settlements. 

If we choose to define fair-play as respect for the rules and/or equal treatment of all concerned, as in sport, fine. However, if we assert that all players are equal in business, we can seem naïve. Patently they are not. Business is not about equality, or fairness, and attempts by a government to impose standards of fair-play based on ‘equality’ are doomed to failure.

It is about two different organisations, often representing different business models, finding ways of accommodating their differing needs in an arrangement that satisfies each party, more or less…. 

Playing fair was something parents and teachers tried to enforce in the playground, and has little application in negotiation. In fact, in these unprecedented times, it can be more productive to talk about fair share – reflecting relative risk – as the basis for grown-up business negotiation.

In other words, given that both parties in a negotiation session take risks via the give-and-take process between ‘equal’ partners, exchanging information and insights that are capable of being abused in the wrong hands, it follows that a fair-share result is one where the rewards are divided in proportion to the perceived risks taken by the counterparties, and each is willing to continue the relationship.

If successful negotiation is defined as a series of matched concession exchanges between equal partners, it clearly cannot take place between two companies of unequal size, unless the NAM can redefine the size of the ball-park.

For instance, as negotiation success is often determined by relative size of business, Tesco's £62bn sales and 28% share of retail market will generally tip the power-balance in their favour for all but the largest suppliers.

All other suppliers need to find ways of leveling the playing field in order to make both parties ‘equal’.

In practice, this means moving from a business-to-business discussion of obvious inequality, where being delisted from Tesco can mean a factory closes, to a focus on a category or even a sub-category where your brand can be positioned as a ‘must-have’ for Tesco, compared with available alternatives, and for that moment you and Tesco can be regarded as business ‘equals’... The key is realism, and an ability to calculate and demonstrate the connection between a supplier’s product offering to the desired financial performance of a major customer. Little else matters in the current economic climate.

UK multiples are currently experiencing unprecedented set-backs, suffering seemingly irreversible share loss to the discounters and local convenience, all under the spotlight of the GCA, with Tesco’s GSCOP report merely a starting point, an investigation by the Financial Reporting Council under way, a SFO seemingly just steps away from imposing financial penalties and a government needing to optimise Corporation Tax returns.

In addition, shifts in consumer shopping behaviour to smaller, faster, closer, more frequent, more convenient purchasing, has resulted in large space redundancy, all diluting major retailer profitability, in the eyes of the stock market.

In other words, it could be said that UK major retailers are now in the market for unprecedented degrees of collaboration with suppliers, more tailor-making to local need, and could be more receptive to the idea of fair-share negotiation.

However, UK multiples are still very powerful players controlling major routes to consumer, and cannot afford to be ‘pushovers’…, but they are more vulnerable than ever before.

This has to represent a significant opportunity, a useful starting point, for those suppliers that are prepared to go back to the fundamentals of consumer need in a radically changed marketplace, re-establish the value to consumers of their essential offering vs. available alternatives, and eliminate any surplus from the consumer’s point of view.

It is then necessary to realistically assess the extent to which each of the multiples has been impacted by the above market changes and issues. Specifically, this means establishing their  ability to meet the needs of your core consumer, compared with other members of the Big Four.

This will help you to establish the specifics of the retailers need-set, as a basis for comparing your ability to satisfy those needs, better than available competition. All based on what we have, all we have, our most valuable asset, consumer trust…

You are then ready to prepare for fair-share negotiation…      

Friday, 5 February 2016

easyFoodstore, Another easyDisrupter? - Comments on the spot from our North London correspondent

Brian Peataque (above), a senior savvy-shopper from Hove-actually, commented: "Normally, this stretch of the North Circular would put years on anyone, but I am excited at the prospect of getting eight SKUs for £2".

                                                                                                                                       pic: bmoore

Following a degree of shopper-demand the mults need to envy, the store had to close on Wednesday to replenish stocks, and opened again this morning.

                                                                                                                                       pic: bmoore

A single check-out, folks...

The future?
With a basic range of 76 products, approx. 500 sq. ft., and one checkout, if Stelios can make the numbers work on 25p - or even 50p - his latest market-disrupter is infinitely scalable....

This has to cause branded suppliers to seek non-compromising ways into the discounter channel, ideally via branded discounters...

NB. For NAMs not accustomed to using easyTransport, easyFoodstore is part of the easyBus depot on the North Circular, a slipway a few hundred yards north of Hanger Lane junction.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

If Carlsberg did shopping trolleys... (Asda Clapham Junction)

In an effort to improve the shopping experience, Carlsberg worked with custom car experts Yiannimize to create a motorized trolley complete with an electric engine, a beer cooling system and satellite navigation. No more warm crates of beer, getting lost in the supermarket and struggling with wonky shopping trolley wheels.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

GCA-Tesco Investigation, What Now?

The GCA Investigation report establishes a basis for suppliers wishing to bench-mark and re-set their relationships with Tesco and other retailers.

Nothing beats a detailed reading of the report in order to identify key aspects to a supplier’s actual trading relationship with Tesco, but application has to be top-of-mind….

In practice, suppliers need to revisit all aspects of their trading relationship and establish working limits, i.e. walkaway points, in each case.

Essentially, the report provide two key areas for immediate application, Credit periods and Deductions.

Credit Periods
Tesco currently pays suppliers in 44 days on average, and the GCA report (7.3) refers to a Competition Commission Report published in 2000 that noted ....retailers delaying payments to suppliers beyond contractual payment periods or by more than 30 days from the date of invoices may adversely affect the competitiveness of some suppliers. 

In practice, for daily delivered SKUs, it could be said that seven days is even more appropriate, but every little helps…

However, strictly speaking, GSCOP specifies that breaches occur when a retailer deviates from a negotiated agreement on terms i.e. the onus is on suppliers to reach agreement on a 30-day credit period if they wish reduce their exposure and operate on that basis.

The report also focuses on unilateral deductions and gives sufficient examples for suppliers to use as a basis for internal adjustment of their systems. Essentially, this means assessing their supplier-retailer relationships re
- Unilateral deductions made in relation to historic claims (Post-audit recovery)
- Unilateral deductions for short deliveries and service level charges
- Unilateral deductions made for other items or unknown items

Given that it can be easier to document each aspect of the trading relationship in advance of execution, if only to avoid having to recover two year old documents under the pressure of a two week buyer deadline, suppliers need to establish ways of minimising post-audit claims, agree and document delivery and service level conditions and anticipate possible deductions for any other breaches.

The pending SFO report - due this week - will add numbers to the above, as well as fleshing out Trade investment definitions and measures.

On balance, the GCA and SFO reports can provide a basis for suppliers to revert to basics with Tesco, treating the company as a new major customer. This means re-assessing Tesco’s relative competitive appeal vs other customers from a consumer-shopper point of view (think media fall-out from both reports), the retailer’s development life-cycle in a radically changed market, and the characteristics that qualify them as an Invest, Maintain or Divest customer, all tailored to your brand consumer...

Finally, for your category, an objective re-assessment of your relative competitive appeal vs Tesco’s new appetites arising from both GCA and SFO investigations will help you determine the strength of your negotiation position in re-setting and optimising the opportunity window partially opened this morning by the GCA Report... 

Monday, 25 January 2016

SFO Tesco investigation set to conclude this week

According to CityAM, quoting Cantor Fitzgerald’s Mike Dennis, the investigation could be wrapped up this week. Any fine/redress will obviously impact Tesco’s cash position in terms of repayment and re-financing bonds, adding to pressures on the company.

Longer term we believe that the government will legislate re the accounting for trade investment, and probably move to retro-payment based on auditable results. 

This means a move for suppliers to building in KPIs and compliance for every trade initiative, an inevitable and long overdue progression to fair-share dealing....

This development coupled with Tesco’s loss of market share, and unlikelihood of a return to old market dominance, means that suppliers are in a stronger position re negotiation of compliance.

A once-only opportunity for NAMs that are prepared to go all the way…

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Counting on Tesco brand values to drive improved performance

                                                                                                                       Chart: CityAM                                                                                                              
The YouGov Index score shows a brand’s overall health and is a combination of several metrics – namely its Impression, Quality, Value, Satisfaction and Reputation measures.

The chart speaks for itself and echoes Tesco’s sales results from Jan 2014 to Jan 2016, through a low point in December 2014 and a continuing upward trend into 2016…making the point that at base, it’s the brand that counts, more than a little…

A Tesco on the way back now has to nurture its delicate relationships with shoppers  and suppliers – and regulators – to avoid even a little unhelpful misstep….

HT to Andy Parker for pointer

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Trade Investment Accountability and how Governments will legislate…

Following the Tesco Accounting scandal, a lack of consensus among the UK's major food retailers is detracting from efforts by the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) to improve the way that companies report complex supplier arrangements and will prolong the uneven disclosure of supplier income, according to a new report by Moody’s Investors Service - more here

NAM Implications:
  • The combination of inconsistency and scale of payments involved means that governments will eventually legislate to optimise taxable income
  • It is probable that such legislation will be conservative (small ‘c’), retrospective, i.e. paid after-the-event and based on measurable results,  the only certainty...
  • In other words, all trade investment will specify KPIs, build in compliance, and payments will be withheld until auditable results are available
NAMs and their customers had best prepare for the inevitable…