Retailers must get to grips with the rapidly changing vape market if they are to take advantage of the opportunity it presents, attendees were told at the Local Shop Summit (LSS) last week.

JTISpeaking at the London event, JTI’s head of communications Mark Yexley said suppliers have a huge role to play in increasing sales. “Vaping provides a huge opportunity for retailers,” he said.

“According to the government there are two million adult vapers in the UK and Nielsen claims independents, symbol groups, forecourts and convenience stores hold 50% of total retail share.”

Mr Yexley stressed the importance of reps as a source of information for retailers. “We have a massive role to play as a supplier,” he said. “Training reps can help understand the category and we have online training tools. Retailers must educate themselves, too, whether through suppliers or customers.”

Meanwhile, Raaj Chandarana, of Tara’s News in High Wycombe, told the audience he had only been introduced to the market a few weeks ago but, as a result of talking to his customers about their needs, is already seeing success.

He installed a vaping gantry last month and receives margins of up to 55% on vape products. “The market is shifting to vaping and retailers who don’t do it quickly enough will miss a trick,” said Mr Chandarana.

“The margins are huge, but there needs to be more training from suppliers. My education comes from customers and trying the products myself. That’s how committed I am.”

Bay Bashir, of Lifestyle Express Belle Vue Convenience in Middlesbrough, added: “Our vaping increased by up to 10%.

“We see a big opportunity, but the main barrier is education from suppliers. It’s difficult to tell the difference between the various vapes available. Retailers need to feel confident when selling these products.”

Speaking to RN after the LSS, Imperial Tobacco’s head of next generation products Sophie Hogg said it had already distributed a number of e-vapour guides across the independent trade.

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