Winning through partnership
Londis’ partnership with Nisa-Today’s is a perfect example of how smaller players can achieve scale and compete
12 October 2009
At ADM Londis’ annual conference last month, the group formally introduced its new wholesale partner, Nisa-Today’s. Earlier in the month it had announced that it was going to source from the UK wholesaler a new range of private label products, as well as some international brands, in a new buying arrangement amounting to approx 10% of total purchasing.
The new private label range will furnish Londis retailers all over Ireland with an equivalent competitive offering to that in all the major food retailers, and ultimately leave the group better positioned to cope with the uncertain period in the market ahead.
Speaking at the conference, commercial director Peter Foley said it was imperative that the group “re-orientate” what it is doing in respect of what consumers’ needs are today. He commented that “consumers are absolutely battered” by present economic conditions and that as many as “six in 10 people are finding it hard to make ends meet.”
This environment has meant that consumers are now managing with less and are more in need of value than before. Foley said there is certainly still cause for optimism however, as 85% of Irish people are still working and the other 15% still have to eat. Furthermore, he firmly believes “Londis stores are where people want to shop,” so the new private label range will provide the vital lower price offer to meet current needs.
The contract with Nisa-Today’s is exclusive to Londis, to give it a competitive private label proposition that was missing up to now. Showing the group means business, Foley also revealed that Londis intends to support the 30 plus new low price lines with a TV campaign, which will include an aggressive consumer-focused value message and price comparison strategy.
Group sales director at Nisa-Today’s Andrew Mouse also spoke at the conference. The organisation partners over 700 independent retailers in the UK, as well as over 200 independent wholesalers, making it the leading wholly member-owned company of its kind in the British food and drink sector.
Mouse noted that being member-owned was an important common trait between the two companies, allowing them to “share business synergies as champions of the independent mutual business model,” which was a deciding factor in Nisa-Today’s choice of Londis for partnership in ROI. In addition, Londis’ logistical infrastructure and established retail real estate made it an attractive option, and together, said Mouse, they make “a creditable alternative to the Southern Ireland competitors franchise.”
Nisa-Today’s private label ranges are under the ‘Heritage’ banner, of which Londis will initially be selling the mid and lower tiers, Heritage and Heritage Value. The ranges extend right across the spectrum of everyday grocery categories, such as fruit juices, canned food, sauces, cooking oils, and health and beauty. New Londis ‘Price Beaters’ from the Heritage ranges include the likes of 5L mineral water for €1.49, four pack toilet rolls for 99c, and shower gel for 99c.
Another strategic alliance announced at the conference is that between Londis and Kerryfresh, who have partnered to redefine the group’s food-to-go offer. The result is Londis Fresh, which represents a step back to basics for the deli; an offering consisting of simple, well-presented food behind the counter, provided by Kerryfresh, and sandwiches, soups and salads, pre-maid and pre-packed in-store with bespoke ‘Londis Fresh’ labelling, for the chill cabinet.
The new formula pairs down the deli to take it back to the demands of pre-recession customers, before we were all “losing the run of ourselves,” said Peter Foley. Today’s needs are “more simple” he commented, which the new offering takes into account. It will also go some way to returning the margin on deli sales, particularly the pre-packed chilled component.
Speaking at the conference, deli-owner and artisan food champion Peter Ward gave a rousing speech on where he thinks food retailing should be headed for the likes of Londis retailers. He asserted that they should be seeking out local artisan and small food producers and driving their products as means of differentiating themselves, while simultaneously driving the local economy.
Ward said that he is “driven by a passion” for food and that independent retailers could reap similar rewards in profit as he has through his food store Country Choice in Nenagh, by driving fresh local food.
“You are over 300 family business routed all over the country, deeply routed in rural Ireland,” said Ward, urging the retailers to use their discretionary purchasing to support Irish producers and attempt to introduce them to their group’s nationwide network.
“There’s nobody seriously doing this in the whole country. Nobody has the taken up the conviction to drive their local economy through food, in their own area, and provide sustainable economics for the producer and sustainable economics for the shop itself,” he said.
Winning is all that matters
Finally, while Londis CEO Stephen O’Riordan congratulated retailers for remaining “courageous” and “upbeat” in current conditions, keynote speaker former All Black captain Sean Fitzpatrick told them that “winning is the most important thing.”
“If you’re coming second, you’re losing money,” he categorically stated.
Fitzpatrick went on to share the New Zealand rugby team’s special brand of tough love in a motivational speech that would either impress or terrify those listening. He told delegates to “never forget a failure” and only “be as successful as you can be,” before finishing with a rather intimidating rendition of the Hakka.
Between Peter Ward’s impassioned call for retailers “to become grocers once again” and Sean Fitzpatrick’s dictum, “winning is all that matters, coming second sucks,” the audience was left in no doubt of Londis’ determination to remain Ireland’s most dynamic and progressive group.
Londis Excellence Awards 2009
This year’s Londis Excellence Awards, presented over the course of the day at the annual conference, saw accolades handed out to 75 retailers, the most ever awarded by the group. At a ceremonial dinner hosted by television presenter Gráinne Seoiga, presentations were made to the category winners and overall winner, as well as special awards for the best suppliers and staff members.
Londis Store of the Year
Keatings Londis Plus, Cobh, Co Cork
Londis Food Hall, Cherrymount, Drogheda, Co Louth
Best Customer Service
Sheehan’s Londis, Parkgate Street, Dublin 7
Best Fruit and Veg
Gillan’s Londis Plus, Summerhill, Co Meath
Best in Food Safety
Roche’s Londis, Doneraile, Co Cork
Londis Staff Member of the Year
Ciara Brennan, Buying
Staff Member of the Year (in a Londis store)
Orlene Mc Goldrick, Londis Dromahair, Co Leitrim
Food Supplier of the Year
Non Food Supplier of the Year