Michael Simpson-Jones has been voted as this month’s Star Buyer by jam, spreads and honey suppliers. Simpson-Jones has only been at Waitrose for nine months but has already impressed suppliers with his partnership style of working.
One supplier said: “Michael is a young chap but has a very good business head on his shoulders. He also listens and treats a supplier as someone of value.”
Another added: “Mike is prepared to experiment and take a bit of a risk - he’s prepared to be different, which is a good thing. He works in partnership with suppliers and believes in long-term relationships.”
It is unusual for so many newcomers to be nominated, but suppliers said that they were the ones driving the category. Sainsbury’s Alison Atkin, Tesco’s Kate Pratt and Michael Dew from Morrisons are all relatively new to jams, spreads and honey. One supplier said that Atkin worked well in partnership with the company and added: “She listens to what we have to say, is very rational and has realistic expectations about what a supplier can deliver.”
Another said: “Alison is an intelligent buyer who is genuinely interested in the category.”
Pratt was said to be very professional. “She has a very good strategic vision and listens to what the supplier has to say.”
Suppliers said Dew had already made an impact on the category at Morrisons. “He is a new model of buyer at Morrisons - a very good negotiator, but is not aggressive with it.”
Fresh & Wild buyer Aylie Cooke has been with the organic and natural food retailer for years. One supplier said: “Cooke is prepared to experiment. She is driven by quality and not at the expense of suppliers’ margins.”
The Co-operative Group’s Roger Marshall also picked up plaudits. “Roger is prepared to give innovative products an opportunity to prove themselves,” said one supplier.