The team deals with suppliers directly and indirectly through Nisa-Today's central buying company. Trading director Richard Lancaster says proper category management in the c-store sector is increasingly important as competition intensifies. "It's a tough trading environment, with new and increased levels of competition. Generally there's been a decline in the more traditional categories and growth in impulse and fresh."
The category management team is putting most of its energy into two core strategies, says Lancaster. "Special focus is on maximising opportunities that result from category management with key suppliers, and using store clustering to maximum effect in satisfying individual store needs." Of course, says Lancaster, "it helps if suppliers are prepared to provide the same levels of service to c-stores as they do to the major multiples: We expect a degree of representation at national account manager level ­ people who deliver what they promise."
For manufacturers seeking to do business with Jacksons for the first time, Lancaster says there is no substitute for thorough preparation and flexibility.
"Suppliers can gain a first listing by approaching the category manager with a well thought-out reason for us to stock their product."