As the nation limped out of January after a long period of colds and flu, The Grocer asked healthcare suppliers to nominate the buyers they most like to deal with when it comes to getting their products into store.

Tesco buyers were popular this month, with three of its healthcare buyers nominated. Vanessa Campbell was chosen for the level of support and respect she gave to suppliers, whereas Rohit Sakhuja, buying manager for oral care and feminine care, was commended for the wealth of experience he has built up in the sector and the commitment to his role.

Tesco’s senior buying manager for healthcare, Jeremy Summers,
was praised for being both approachable and pragmatic.

The buyer of health and well-being products at Waitrose, Nigel Sharp, received his nominations because of his pro-active approach to the job. One supplier said he always searched for new products to improve the category and always thought innovatively.

Suppliers liked Asda healthcare buyer John Shoesmith’s forthright approach to the job, saying how easy he was to work with.

Although Max Hunter’s experience as Boot’s dental buyer helped him to drive a tough deal, he was always willing to listen to common sense, said one supplier.

Six of the best healthcare buyers
>>nominated this month are...

Max Hunter
Buyer for Dental, Femcare & Tissues, boots
Hunter has been at Boots for three years, joining as an assistant buyer for foot care in December 2001. He moved on to become dental buyer in January 2003.

Recently, he has been given incremental responsibility for feminine care and tissues and has two junior buyers working with him.

Before joining Boots, Hunter worked for the manufacturer Robinson Healthcare of Chesterfield for one year as product manager for first aid. The company supplied own label plasters and bandages to Asda and Superdrug, among others. He joined Robinson after completing a PhD in atmospheric chemistry.

John Shoesmith
Healthcare buyer, Asda

Shoesmith has worked at Asda for 23 years where his roles have included potato and vegetable buyer, value engineer and head of loss prevention. Other areas have included inventory management and audit distribution. Shoesmith says that the every day low pricing culture at Asda comes as second nature to him now.

Vanessa Campbell
Healthcare and beauty manager, Tesco

Campbell joined Tesco in 1999 in the non-food seasonal department, where she worked as a technical manager.

She then became buying manager for Christmas gifts and gardening. In 2002, Campbell joined the health and beauty team and is now responsible for the core areas of skincare, colourants, professional hair care and travel.

Rohit Sakhuja
Buying Manager, Oral care and feminine care, Tesco

Sakhuja’s roles with Tesco have included non-food marketing manager for He launched the online Wine Warehouse and was involved in baby website project management. He has held his current post since 2002.

Other jobs have included organics project manager for Tesco, managing commercial range development. He has also been confectionery marketing manager and a commercial information analyst. Before joining Tesco, Sakhuja worked in stores with Sainsbury and hard discounter Aldi.

Nigel Sharp
Health and well-being Buyer, Waitrose

Sharp has worked at Waitrose for more than 27 years. The majority were spent as a buyer within grocery and non-food, but 11 of them were at store level.

His areas of buying responsibility have included crisps and snacks, breakfast cereals, soft drinks, fruit juice, men’s toiletries, deodorants and dental.

Sharp’s current buyer’s role includes vitamins, free-from products and low-carb.

Before joining Waitrose at the age of 20, Sharp worked for his family’s retail business.

Jeremy Summers
Senior buying manager, healthcare, Tesco

Summers has been in buying for nine years, joining Tesco one-and-a-half years ago. He was initially Tesco’s buying manager for medicines. As senior buying manager of healthcare, he has overall responsibility for the healthcare category.

Summers started his career at Savacentre in 1995 as a non-food buyer and in 1999, he moved into the medical industry with Alliance Unichem, a leading healthcare wholesaler, where he was a trading controller for four years.