It’s 2015, a year of a general election, an ashes series and the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta. In convenience, a challenging economy, shifting consumer needs and changes in legislation look to make it a year to remember, so we asked three experts what challenges and opportunities RN readers face and for their advice on how to deal with them

 

Jeremy Blackburn, head of communications, JTI

WEB-Jeremy-Blackburn-7879What major challenge will retailers face in 2015?

The implementation of the retail display ban on 6 April in the remainder of outlets selling tobacco represents the biggest upheaval the tobacco category has witnessed in recent years.

How should retailers handle this?

Our message is simple: don’t wait for the ban to happen, be prepared. In the run up to April, planograms must remain consistent so that staff can become familiar with the layout – this is one way to ensure that queuing times are kept to a minimum. It is vital to maintain a strong range and portfolio. Retailers should not see the display ban as an opportunity to destock tobacco products.

 

Neil Saunders, managing director, retail analysts Conlumino

WEB-Neil-SaundersWhat major opportunity will independent retailers have in 2015?

The major opportunity is the continued disruption of the established order in the grocery sector. The big four are under pressure like never before as buying habits become more fragmented and shopping around increases. Good independents can take advantage of this.

How can they exploit this? 

Focus on the things many of the big four are getting wrong. Great service, personalised shopping experiences, speed and convenience. Avoid competing too much on price, as this has become the province of the deep discounters. More fragmented shopping missions also provide an opportunity: the deep discounters don’t offer a full range, and with consumers visiting the big four less often, independents can fill in the gaps if they understand which products their consumers want.

 

John Kinney, retail director, Today’s Group

WEB-John-KinneyWhat major challenge will retailers face in 2015?

We saw a price war fought on our TV screens between the multiples in 2014 and I’m sure this will continue this year, making price one of the biggest challenges for independent retailers. In particular, the impact that low prices have on margins. Add to that the rising cost of business rates and energy prices, which retailers will need to absorb while margins are squeezed, and the challenge becomes significant.

How should retailers handle this?

Through our own brand, we are supporting retailers by helping them provide great value to consumers in a way that gives a sustainable profit margin to both retailers and wholesalers. A recent example is our Today’s Select milk chocolate which has just been launched, pricemarked at 59p, which offers retailers a 34.7% profit.