A leading tobacco manufacturer says it has trained its reps to be store experts to protect retailers as plain packaging legislation begins to impact their stores.

The move is part of JTI’s support for retailers ahead of the May 2017 EUTPD II and plain pack sell-through deadline.

In an exclusive interview with RN, the manufacturer also announced it will launch a website this month aiming to educate customers in response to retailer concerns.

Andy Stevens, JTI’s head of sales, said: “We’ve done a lot of training in the past two years to make sure that, as legislation becomes more layered, reps understand
the workings of the whole shop.

“Rather than just dealing with tobacco, they understand how tobacco interacts with categories like news and soft drinks. Some of the footfall tobacco brings benefits other categories as well.”

He added the manufacturer will also help retailers with stock rotation, ensuring “those brands that get stuck in the cupboard find their way on to the shelves”.

“If you follow the guidance provided, you should not have any out-of-date stock left,” Mr Stevens said.

The website, which will explain what the new tobacco legislation means to smokers, will be supported by a poster and leaflet campaign which will direct customers to the site, as well as provide basic information on the changes. The campaign will also feature in supermarkets as well as retailers such as McColl’s.

“Retailers have asked us ‘how are consumers going to know about this?’. At some point the pack of 10 that a customer has been smoking for years is not going to be there anymore,” he said.

“All a retailer needs to say is ‘remember we still have your brand in a 20-pack. The brand is not changing, it’s just going to be in a different pack size and at a different purchase price.”

Kamal Thaker, of Stop Shop News in Middlesex, said: “JTI has been very proactive in its communication.

“Rep visits have helped me prepare for the legislation, including seeing photos of plain packs.”

Exclusive interview with Andy Stevens in this week’s Retail Newsagent (5 August).