The chairman of Appleby Westward, Spar wholesaler for the West Country, has admitted the company “made mistakes” last year and has promised a new back-to-basics approach, ditching the Eurospar supermarkets concept and company-owned stores and concentrating instead on serving its independent retail members.
Addressing members at Appleby’s annual trade show in Exeter earlier this month, Leo Crawford admitted the company had taken some wrong turns. “Last year was a very challenging year for us and we made a number of mistakes in our business model and it was our retail partners who suffered as a result,” he said.
“But we have taken corrective action to get us back on track. Words are cheap and we have to demonstrate to our retail partners that we are committed to working in partnership.”
The “corrective action” includes the appointment of Mark McCammond (ex-Henderson Retail and Sainsbury’s) as managing director. “The changes already made to chilled chain distribution have proved very effective, service levels are excellent and we now have the capacity to service you professionally,” Crawford said.
McCammond, who has only been in the job four months, re-affirmed the company’s ongoing £2m-a-year investment budget for co-investment with members. However, he also said that he would not pursue the Eurospar trading concept after testing the idea, unsuccessfully, in three West Country towns.
He also plans to sell the one store that was purchased as a prelude to re-establishing a company-owned chain. His plan is to get back to basics and concentrate Appleby Westward’s effort into servicing its members. “Today is a fresh start,” he said.
Debbie Robinson, managing director of Spar UK, re-affirmed the need for a more “joined-up approach” to retailing while looking for some “easy wins” in-store. She wants to see more clip-strips being used on-shelf to prompt impulse sales and more retailers using mobile display units to promote products.
Robinson also outlined a series of business-building initiatives planned for this year. Three “pick and mix” meal deals have been tested and will be rolled out: a breakfast deal retailing at £2, lunch at £3 and dinner for £5. There will also be a push on fresh fruit – “Fresh for Less” – with packs price-marked at £1 as part of a bigger initiative to offer consumers “healthier food”.
Source: Independent Retail News