From the top · 25 September 2015

Tapping the knowledge of Holland & Barrett CEO Peter Aldis to identify key retail supplier tips

Peter Aldis has retail experience from Currys, Asda and Holland & Barrett
Peter Aldis has retail experience from Currys, Asda and Holland & Barrett

With the retail sector as fiercely competitive as its ever been, against a backdrop of changing times when it comes to consumer buying trends, what are your chances of getting a product on the shelves of a major UK high street retailer?

If you are a manufacturer of consumer products, or a sales agent representing different ranges, the Holy Grail to drive volume sales has to be achieving the all important listing with a major retailer, either online, on the high street or ideally both.

Your approach depends upon a range of factors based upon what you are selling and the type of retailer and, ultimately, the specific consumer group you are targeting. But there is a lot of generic, common sense guidance that must be followed.

Peter Aldis, CEO of Holland & Barrett International, represents a very specific sales channel made up of more than 1000 health and wellness stores in the UK and overseas, not to mention a highly active online ecommerce website, selling vitamins, minerals, health foods and supplements – but with a career background that includes working for Currys and Asda.

He said: “Anyone who approaches our business with a view to becoming a supplier must do their homework – and they are going to feel like they have gone through the mill by the time they leave, but that is the same with any big retailer, looking to achieve better margins.

“The difference with us is that we really want to work with people, and so potential suppliers must avoid the ‘me too’ approach and trying to model their pitch on something else that already exists in store. We need to know specifically what is in your product, why is it unique, why should we sell it, why are you coming into this industry, and how is it relevant and important to our consumers.

“As important as that within our business in particular is how are you going to help and support our staff to learn about your product so they can better sell it to our customers. Be prepared to help incentivise our sales staff, be prepared to invest in creating educational support materials and help us really get behind the product and be really passionate about it.”

He added: “We work with a number of smaller suppliers. We are always looking for the right products, and so in some cases where there is a clear benefit in doing so, we will really get behind new products in terms of putting it in our stores, in a good position and with support to help promote it, but in return we will want exclusivity.

“For a smaller supplier, this can really help to launch them into the market and we have a track record of doing that and have helped many new, smaller companies to grow and develop through a sales relationship with Holland & Barrett first.

“With our ‘free from’ range for those that suffer from food allergies or intolerance, a lot of our suppliers are small ‘cottage and kitchen’ businesses, and we are seriously looking at creating a platform for suppliers like these to get a chance to meet our buyers and pitch what they have to offer, with a view to selecting the best to join our growing range, which is around 1,000 free from products today, expanding to 3,000 in the near future.

So, what are the seven key questions you should ask yourself before attempting the elevator pitch with a buyer? You can find out by visiting page two.

Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest from Business Advice.


 
TAGS:

ABOUT THE EXPERT

In addition to freelance writing and a passion for theatre and film production, Eric Woollard-White is a business development, marketing and PR consultant and founder and CEO of Thirty7 Productions. For ten years, he worked with entrepreneur and Dragons’ Den panellist Peter Jones in a variety of communications and senior management roles, prior to which he trained and worked as a news reporter, before moving into PR within Royal Mail Group and then Omnicom.

Insurance