Gary Blake managing director, The English Provender Company

Own-label products are no longer yours - they are the retailer's. Are you ready to lose a degree of the product ownership, and are you comfortable with a collaborative relationship where the customer is always right?

The multiples are world leaders in own label, so if you are prepared to listen and accept that your working practices could be adjusted for the better, it can be a positive experience.You get the benefits of volume, distribution and immersion in key parts of the category, and less onus on promotion. Be sure to factor in unseen costs such as packaging design.

Retailers look to small brand owners to deliver differentiated, specialist products. But even so, you still have to keep a tight hold on costs. There is always another supplier who will aim to do what you are doing for less money, so be very clear on what your competitive advantage as a supplier is, and shout about it.

Stephanie Kean marketing director, The Serious Food Company

With increased competition from own label, only those brands with a strong and unique identity will survive. A product must have a quality that sets it apart from others and a marketing strategy evoking widespread customer loyalty.

So while profitability is vital, the brand's soul must be detached from manufacturing, otherwise it becomes a manufacturer's own label and vulnerable. With many brands moving outside their categories, brand manufacturing can be given to third parties, freeing up the manufacturing arm to consider a life outside of brand.

Manufacturers that offer own-label products that recreate the brand's quality while protecting its uniqueness often get reciprocated loyalty by the retailer. The challenge is balance - to give the retailers an own-label offering that competes strongly without cannibalising the brand or detracting internal focus from the brand.