My final question to Imperial Tobacco’s head of sales Martin Goodall and head of trade marketing Linda van Kaam, in their first ever trade interview, was: “As a company that operates in 170 markets, what global learnings have been applied to transforming the way your sales force supports independent retailers?” The answer, in short, was: none.


The transformation is the first of its kind and bespoke to UK market opportunities, while the software was designed exclusively to help retailers plug industry average 20% availability gaps. “We are leading the group,” said Mr Goodall.

The scale and size of the manufacturer’s “root and branch” review got me thinking about what an independent retailer can learn from how a FTSE 100 company is evolving.

While hiring 115 new members of staff and developing bespoke software is more stock market than stockroom, many of the principles will be familiar to every innovative business: listening to your customers, improving service, experimenting, being patient, testing results and reacting quickly to successes.

Not only does this week’s RN Interview give you a first look at how Imperial Tobacco is aiming to grow its business and yours, it shows what is possible if you see an opportunity and capitalise on it.

This week’s profiled retailer, Jasdeep Singh, is another great example. He used to split his time between running his Bradford c-store and studying for a masters degree in corporate sustainability, applying what he learnt to his business and preparing it for the future.

I hope this issue inspires you. Invest in your future. Don’t fear change. And, like both Imperial Tobacco and Jasdeep, constantly look for ways to win new business and grow the business you already have.