>>Helen Corbishley, category product manager, co-operative group

Helen Corbishley says she needs more days to get through her busy working week as category product manager for chilled ready meals at the Co-operative Group.
Corbishley’s role involves sourcing suppliers and products, analysing market data, identifying gaps in the market, monitoring competitor activity, preparing new product development and product relaunch plans, as well as developing new packaging and labelling for all the products in the range.
She says: “My working week is quite varied and because two days are never the same it is always very exciting.
“I have to work in close proximity with buyers, suppliers and artwork houses.
“A lot of my time involves taste panels to try out potential new products and it usually takes quite a few panels to get the exact product we want.
“There is a constant batting of ideas with buyers because they obviously have a large say in what they want to bring into the range.”
Once the decision has been made to list a new product, there is a massive amount of work to be done to make sure that product gets out to the customer, says Corbishley. And
it’s her job to make sure that everyone involved is working towards a common goal - the launch date.
She says: “A big part of my week is managing the critical path of the product from concept to launch. I am in constant contact with suppliers, the design house and buyers to make sure that we are all on track to meet each deadline date for the product launch.”
Including all new products, as well as changes to current recipes, Corbishley is working on 60 new labels and packaging designs.
“You can have the perfect product but without the correct packaging, and the correct labelling that meets all legal requirements, you cannot get it out on to shelves.”
A constant batting about of ideas with buyers