Fresh produce buyer Danny Grover introduced a category management approach to Budgens’ fruit business when he joined the company from Waitrose just over a year ago.
The move reduced Budgens fruit suppliers to seven category managers, each of which had expertise within specific fruit types. For example, Eurodix now supplies the retailers’ entire citrus needs.
Now the initiative will be rolled out to Budgens’ vegetable supply base, which is made up of 25 companies at present.
Dealing directly with growers hampered the potential for
developing sales through new initiatives, said Grover.
“We’ve got to be able to implement marketing plans, and the smaller guys just don’t have the expertise for that.”
The switch to category management did not mean growers losing out, he said, simply that they would now supply Budgens through the relevant category manager.
“The biggest benefit is that it helps us with long-term planning. The growers are most concerned with price and getting product to shelf, but this means they are not thinking about where the category is going. Now we can get together with the category managers and work out initiatives.”
One success in fruit had been a collaboration between category managers with the introduction of a market stall-style fixture in smaller stores.
Said Grover: “It meant we were able to offer eight individual fruit lines in less than 1,000 sq ft. We had all that fresh fruit in the kind of store where you might normally have none.”
Budgens’ vegetable suppliers had nothing to fear, he insisted. “Our fruit growers feel much more part of a team now. They love it.”