When soup suppliers nominated their favourite buyers this month they told us that although their nominees were determined to drive a hard bargain, they were also fair and helped to increase the performance of the soup category.

Tesco’s Mark Suddaby drew praise from many who said that although he negotiated deals that were best for Tesco, his judgment was always balanced and his opinions considered. In addition he demonstrated an understanding of suppliers’ commercial needs.

Morrisons’ senior buyer of canned goods and soups, Darren Schofield, was commended for his accessibility and although he was a tough talker, he was also fair and open to suggestions.

Yseult Caroff-Richeux was credited for improving Waitrose’s soup category and increasing sales by creating a good balance between branded and own label soups. Rachel Ryan is said to have done the same at Somerfield. One supplier said she was a good quality buyer. When she took up the job two years ago, Somerfield’s fresh soup sales were struggling, but now they showed good growth.

Sainsbury’s soup sales are flying, according to another supplier who said that although Vanessa Pearson had only been in the job six months, she had made a big impact. Asda’s Richard Dent always delivered on promises and made negotiations enjoyable.

Six of the best soup buyers
>>nominated this month

Yseult Caroff-Richeux
Buyer, Chilled Prepared Foods (fresh pasta, pizzas, soups and sauces), Waitrose

Caroff-Richeux has been with Waitrose for more than five years. She has held buying roles in fresh areas, including sandwiches, bread, cold pies, dips, snack salads. Before joining Waitrose, Caroff-Richeux was a buyer for Co-operative Retail Services, now The Co-operative Group.

Rachel Ryan
Category buyer, chilled pizza, breads, pasta, soup and sauce, Somerfield

Ryan has worked at Somerfield since 1992 and has been a buyer for the past seven years - the last two years for soup. Before that she was the buyer for ready meals. Before joining the buying team, Ryan worked in Somerfield's new product development team for five years.

Richard Dent
Buyer, Canned Grocery, Asda

Dent has been working in his current role for 12 months. After leaving university in 2001, he joined Asda as a merchandising assistant in general merchandise and then moved to ambient world foods.

His next role was one of a buyer for ethnic and speciality foods.

Darren Schofield
Senior grocery buyer, canned goods and soups, Morrisons

Schofield is in his 12th year at Morrisons. He progressed from trainee buyer to buyer in 1994 and then became senior buyer for canned goods and soups in 2003. Morrisons said he had an extensive knowledge of fresh and ambient as his experience streches over many categories.

Vanessa Pearson
Buyer, Chilled pasta, pasta sauce, soup and bread, Sainsbury

Pearson joined Sainsbury 18 months ago as a customer service supervisor. She successfully applied to join the graduate buying scheme and transferred to head office. Her first role was on food-to-go. She says she loved the variety of the job and the opportunity she had to make a difference.

Mark Suddaby
Buying manager, canned grocery, Tesco

Suddaby has worked with Tesco for five years. He joined as a commercial information analyst and after one year he moved to become a buyer in the health and beauty division, where he remained for three years and had responsiblity for building the Nutri Centre @ Tesco concept.