Dairy farmers tweet to victory in milk price row

Farmers are often accused of not really ‘getting’ consumers. Sure, they know a thing or two about how to feed them, but when it comes to talking to them, best leave it to the grown-ups at the big brands. Or so many in the industry thought.

After the success of the #sosdairy milk price campaign, farmers are unlikely to be underestimated again. Dairy producers were barely out of the headlines in the summer, garnering support for their cause and extracting vital price promises from retailers and processors. Even the discounters gave way.

What made #sosdairy so different from previous farmer campaigns was its focus on social media. The online farming community has long been active on Twitter, and its commitment to social media - from individual farmers to industry organisations such as the NFU - paid real dividends in the summer.

Of course, arguments about milk prices aren’t ever going to go away, and concerns remain about producers receiving a sustainable milk price. Therefore, the real legacy of #sosdairy is that it has given producers the confidence - and more importantly the tools - to take their concerns directly to the general public. Now they’ve found their voice, don’t expect them to suddenly lose it.

Julia Glotz


Animée fails to animate women

British women don’t like beer. It’s too bitter, too fizzy and too fattening. Oh, and it’s not a very pretty colour. Or so said Molson Coors when it launched ‘female-friendly’ lager Animée in 2011.

In March, we revealed that the range - available in three ladylike flavours (lemon, rosé, and, um, ‘clear’) - had only racked up £300k in sales despite the brewer pouring millions into the launch and its women and beer think tank the BitterSweet Partnership.

It looked destined for failure and it was. In September, the brand was axed and we haven’t heard a peep out of BitterSweet since. It seems it’s not so much beer that British women don’t like, but being patronised.

Rob Brown


Brasher: biggest casualty in year of the reshuffle

Grocery’s revolving door was a blur in 2012, with an unparalleled number of high-profile departures.

None higher than Tesco UK boss Richard Brasher, recipient of The Grocer’s Revolving Door Award 2012. Brasher walked in March after just a year in the post following poor Christmas trading and the retailer’s first profit warning in 20 years. Group CEO Philip Clarke promptly took closer control of the company’s UK division - a responsibility he appears ready to delegate once again with reports that a new UK CEO is set to be appointed. And he also shuffled the international deck - Tim Mason last month exited failing US outpost Fresh & Easy.

There was plenty of churn beyond Tesco too. Kate Bostock, head of general merchandising at M&S, took a bullet in July after non-food sales continued to disappoint. Then in November, Morrisons’ group commercial director Richard Hodgson announced he was stepping down after a slump in sales.

And the revolving door wasn’t just in danger of falling off at the retailers. Warburtons saw the departure of MD Robert Higginson and marketing director Richard Hayes within a few months of one another. Time will tell who 2013 will prove unlucky for.

Simon Creasey


Billionaire Aldi heir Berthold Albrecht leaves lasting legacy

News of the death of Berthold Albrecht, the reclusive heir to Aldi Nord empire, was released by the equally reclusive family in December. While his tendency to shy away from the limelight means he’ll only be missed by those who knew him well, his legacy on global retail is clear.

The son of Aldi co-founder Theo Albrecht Sr is credited with the success of Aldi in the US. The German discounter first entered the US in 1979 with the purchase of rather more upmarket Trader Joe’s, the ongoing success of which has made life far from easy for Tesco’s Fresh & Easy (although Tesco was ultimately the architect of its own demise in the US).

Tesco wasn’t the first global giant Berthold bested. Aldi played a significant role in the withdrawal of Walmart from Germany in 2006, with the US giant citing the prevalence of discounters as a key reason for its exit. According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Berthold left a fortune of

Rob Brown


Jail for trio in spud corruption case

The dangers of offering or accepting bribes were illustrated nowhere more clearly than in the multimillion-pound corruption case involving former Sainsbury’s spud buyer John Maylam, former Greenvale finance director Andrew Behagg and former Greenvale account director David Baxter.

In June, the three were sentenced to four, three and two-and-a-half years respectively for their roles in the scam, which had seen Maylam and Baxter siphon off £4.9m into foreign bank accounts by overcharging Sainsbury’s on a number of high-volume potato lines supplied by Greenvale.

Convinced the fraud was too elaborate to be detected, Maylam wasn’t exactly discreet in how he spent his ill-gotten gains, using them to fund a lavish lifestyle of sports cars (he treated himself to a £93k Aston Martin), yachts and luxury hotels. He and Baxter pleaded guilty, while Behagg claimed he was innocent but was found guilty of corruption for authorising the payments to Maylam.

Rob Brown