Category Focus: Connecting Businesses

Sales and marketing companies connect brands with retailers and ultimately with consumers - the right one can make a massive difference
Sales and marketing companies connect brands with retailers and ultimately with consumers - the right one can make a massive difference

Whether a business is a local start-up, a global brand or something in between, a strong relationship with a professional marketing and distribution agency can drive sales and bring that business to its next level. There are many agencies providing this service, each with their own history and personal approach to getting results. We’ve caught up with some of the biggest names in the business to hear how their approach might be exactly what your brand is seeking


Brand Central

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15 April 2019

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Sales and marketing agencies play a vital role in retail, and are a key relationship for producers, suppliers and retailers alike, acting as a conduit between all three. For each, they are the main point of contact, a connection with the rest of the world – sometimes quite literally.

For that reason, a healthy relationship with a sales and marketing agency is key for any brand. Yet these companies, while the above description is true, are so much more than that. They act as champions for their brands, and the work they do can often make a major difference in the level of success that can be attained. Whether it’s a new company, a product launch, a rebrand or some other pivotal moment, the right sales and marketing team can and will play a major role in the success of a project.

In every case, this dedication comes from years of experience as well as the highest level of professional service in every area. Ahead of summer 2019 and all the product launches that come with it, we’re taking a closer look at some of Ireland’s biggest and best sales and marketing  agencies to learn what their point of difference is.

Ampersand is a family-owned business which has built its position as Ireland’s leading FMCG sales and marketing distributor to the convenience channel since its establishment in 1947. The company name Ampersand is derived from the “&” symbol  that is commonly used as the link between paired words, and reflects the company’s core business as a link between brands, retailers and consumers.

Ampersand offers brand owners a broad range of services and specialities to get their product to market and into the hands of consumers.

Linking brands and retailers

Ampersand operates under three pillars, through which it offers that broad range of services to its clients in order to maximise their potential.

  • Route to market: In short, Ampersand can offer brands nationwide distribution. Currently servicing over 3,000 direct accounts across the Irish market, Ampersand calls to every town and shop format spanning across the Republic of Ireland. It does not restrict coverage by applying minimum order quantities; this approach enables Ampersand to rapidly achieve very high distribution for new brand launches.
  • Key account management: Ampersand also offers expertise in key account management, with strong relationships in retail head offices. Regular meetings are held with a view to discussing progress and market trends.
  • Passionate sales team: Ampersand has a passionate sales team of 11 highly experienced representatives on the road, offering nationwide coverage in all trade sectors supported by an internal telesales team of four. Over the last couple of years, Ampersand has invested in its sales force by adding two new sales representatives to the team. This investment signifies Ampersand’s success on the market and its continued commitment to sales growth and the development of the brands within its portfolio.

Ampersand’s sales team members are all locally based in their sales territory and over time they have built great relationships and trust with customers. The team has full product knowledge which they pass on to their customers, offering them a tailored presentation, promotions and a product offering that best suits their store and individual needs. The sales team also carry best-selling lines in their car-stock and point of sale material to ensure there are no out of stocks and to drive incremental sales and brand exposure.

Linking brands and people

Similarly, Ampersand has a defined approach to linking brands and retailers, thus maximising the potential of a relationship as well as providing retailers with the vital link they need to new and existing products.

Brand development: Ampersand has assisted many of its brands in becoming market leaders on the Irish market. This has been achieved through top-line marketing strategies. Ampersand’s team are experts in developing brands by addressing markets’ needs and opportunities. They identify key product benefits and USPs, design packaging and POS, set pricing and route-tomarket strategy and create brand building initiatives and promotions to achieve set goals.

Consumer marketing: Ampersand has a wealth of experience in both trade and consumer marketing. The company also works closely with all its brand partners to develop brand building activities that will appeal to the relevant target market. Ampersand launches and grows brands by creating consumer and retailer demand which in turn increases sales; a proven formula for success which has made the business one of Ireland’s leading FMCG sales and marketing distributors.



SHS Sales & Marketing is recognised as one of Ireland’s leading partners for outsourced solutions across sales, marketing, finance, customer services and logistics in all trading channels. SHS’s solutions have been developed with the experience of working at the forefront of grocery retailing in Ireland for over 40 years.

Each brand owner is unique. SHS Sales & Marketing recognises this and develops tailored plans to meet each brand’s specific needs. Offering a full-service sales and marketing solution, the SHS Sales & Marketing team approaches every brand owner with a flexible attitude to ensure their needs are understood and met.

Detailed shopper and retailer insight across healthcare, grocery, soft drinks, hot beverages, alcohol beverages and household categories underpins and informs this work. An experienced team of sales representatives regularly calls on retailers across Ireland, using knowledge to help shape the most appropriate category and promotional strategies for brand owners, while building relationships that will influence a brand’s visibility and performance in-store.

SHS currently represents a number of iconic brands including WKD, Burtons Biscuits, Ryvita, Jordan, Twinings, Shloer, Bottlegreen, Finish, Organix, Vileda and Tommee Tippee. Specialist knowledge, coupled with category expertise and breadth of sales coverage across all trading channels, has proven successful in supporting brand owners to help build great brands. SHS Sales & Marketing is committed to delivering tangible, commercial results, which is why it retains such a strong pedigree of brands.

On 1 May 2019, SHS Sales and Marketing Ireland will assume responsibility for the sales and distribution of all 3V Group brands in Ireland. The portfolio includes Meridian nut butters, jams and bars and Rocks Organic Drinks. This partnership will deliver further growth for 3V’s brands within the Irish marketplace.

“We are looking forward to building on the strength of these brands,” says SHS Sales & Marketing sales director Des McCullough, “through operational excellence, effective in-store execution and new product development.”

One of the key benefits for brands is the unsurpassed level of field coverage SHS can provide at store level via dedicated multiple and convenience sales teams. This, coupled with the fact that SHS Sales & Marketing is a respected partner that delivers results, makes SHS an excellent team to engage with in Ireland.




Operating in both Northern Ireland and the Republic, Allegro is marking 70 years in business in 2019 with a fresh new look and renewed vigour

Veteran sales and marketing agency Allegro offers its brand partners a complete selling, marketing and distribution service across the entire island of Ireland. It has been successfully partnering and building local and international brands since 1949, and is a subsidiary of Total Produce plc, Europe’s leading fresh produce company with over 4,000 employees in 28 countries and an annual turnover of circa €5 billion.

Some of the brands Allegro represents include Nivea, SC Johnson, Bord Na Móna and Philips, while some of the most recent additions for 2019 are Weetabix, Maggi, Nairn’s, Nordzucker, Beko, Sharp and Blaupunkt. Allegro Northern Ireland also welcomed Mars to its portfolio in 2018.

At Allegro, the point of difference is its people. The highly experienced and motivated team is passionate about developing, nurturing and sustaining brands in the Irish market. There is a great emphasis on creating a winning, innovative and entrepreneurial culture within the business, while the dynamic management team, led by MD Cillian Molloy and commercial director Joe Butler, works hard to oversee the company’s performance targets and strategic goals.

Allegro has strong existing head office relationships with all players in the sector and has extensive reach into the grocery, pharmacy and electrical channels. As clients of Allegro, brand owners receive access to a 360-degree service menu including a range of marketing services, insights, advertising, PR, digital, sponsorship, in-store activation and more. This is achieved through the in-house experienced marketing team and long-standing agency partners who specialise in their fields.

Allegro also has the systems and processes to manage and develop any business. Clients can expect real-time reporting and feedback through a marketleading suite of reporting tools. Allegro’s ongoing strategy of significant financial investment in information technology and systems development is vital  to providing a full menu-based service option for clients. Systems and processes are extremely flexible with an ability to interface with both clients and customers’ systems alike. In short, Allegro achieves success through its people, its systems and its brands.



As an established brand development agency, Shape works with clients from all types of industries to build strong successful brands. The agency has helped develop Irish, international, new, old, broken and spectacular brands.

At the heart of all these services is the idea of total brand development. TBD means aligning every element of the brand around a strong, clear and consistent core message. It means clearly distinguishing a product from its competition and building a compelling brand image that consumers will want to buy. Clients of Shape frequently avail of its BrandRoute programme which is designed to create a strong brand that will last long into the future.

Key benefits

Marketing directors, MDs and CEOs can often find it difficult to see the wood for the trees when they’re ‘inside’ their brand looking out. Brands that lack clarity struggle to engage with their customers, which is why engaging a brand development partner like Shape can be invaluable. There are a number of factors brand owners should consider in order to find a partner that understands consumer brands and has a specific process for brand building like BrandRoute. This requires a service that can help define the unique value of a product and most importantly articulate the brand in a compelling way for audiences. Essentially, brands need a developer who knows how to create the right image that will ultimately drive future brand reputation and sales growth.

Developing strong and successful brands delivers numerous benefits for clients of Shape. Apart from higher intrinsic valuations, they generate greater sales revenues and longterm margin growth. Strong, recognisable brands make it easier for the consumer to buy and for the sales team to sell. Retailers provide better shelf and promotional space, and are more likely to stock range extensions. This in turn can allow for premium pricing, and make products less vulnerable to competitive activity. They strengthen trust and loyalty, meaning consumers will return to buy again and again.

Retail relationships

As click-and-collect continues to grow, in-store customer experience is more important than ever. The Shape brand audit programme gives retailers detailed feedback on the quality of their brand delivery, empowering them to make changes that improve future performance. These structured retail audits provide substantial, measurable benefits inside and outside of the organisation. They help drive in-store execution, protect the brand and have strong return on investment. Consistent execution of messaging, service, care and merchandising improves the customer experience, builds relationships and improves same-store sales.




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