Planet Organic

Source: Planet Organic

‘We’re going to start range reviewing everything’ Elliot told suppliers

Renée Elliott is planning to review all ranges stocked by Planet Organic as part of efforts to rebuild the troubled London grocer.

In what was one of her first public talks since leading a last-minute deal to rescue the chain she founded from administration in April, Elliott laid out her plans for the chain to suppliers at the Bread & Jam Festival in Islington on Tuesday.

“We’re going to start range reviewing everything – which has not been done,” Elliott said. “We’re agreeing the process for that now.”

The exact categories had not yet been decided, but the work would involve “redefining the product standard” on offer as well as price reviews, she added.

“It’s not just about sales,” Elliott said. “There are products that we’re selling now, and I don’t know why.”

The chain would move back to 80% of its range being fully organic and would focus on promoting “nutritious foods for better health”.

Elliott is currently writing a business plan for the financial year from September, which will include a marketing strategy and a potential campaign around the ”meaning of organic” as well as sustainability and nutritional products.

She also hopes to create defined guidelines the chain can give to potential suppliers, which clearly state what its standards are. 

“It has to be healthy, there are certain ingredients that we don’t want in there,” Elliott said. “We’re trying to be really clear, really simple that ‘this is what we want’, and we can say to our customers this is who we are.”

Planet is still taking product requests, but Elliott urged any potential stocker to be “patient” while her team dealt with the “deluge” of requests from brands wanting to work with the chain.

Stabilising stores

As part of her pre-pack deal to buy-back Planet Organic Elliott acquired brand assets and 10 of the chain’s stores. Four “unprofitable” stores in Teddington, Henley, Bermondsey and Tottenham Court Road were closed. The deal also didn’t include a warehouse operated by the chain.

Elliott ruled out any plans to immediately start to rebuild the brand’s footprint.

“Our strategy is not to expand for now, but to stabilise. We’ve been reducing costs, rebuilding supply chain and onboarding most of our suppliers.

“It’s about the store experience,” added Elliott. However, she insisted she was ”not saying no to anything” in the future.

Food to go has relaunched at two stores, in Muswell Hill and West Bourne Grove, and Planet Organic has also relaunched its e-commerce operation.

In an at-times emotional speech, Elliott apologised to suppliers, some of whom she admitted weren’t paid as a result of the company’s struggles. The previous management team and shareholders were “all gone” following her buy-back, she said.

“This never should have happened, it was awful. But that was them and this is us, and that was then and this is now. I’m looking forward.”