Sir; Phil Smiley in his article Drowning by Numbers' (The Grocer, March 25, p48) paints a very partial picture of the current state of category management which many will not recognise. He conjures up a vision of managers swamped in excessive data, overwhelmed by the burden of template filling, and trapped by too much analysis. In this vision, too much process runs the risk of stifling creativity and real category development. Whilst a number of larger manufacturers will, I suppose, be all too familiar with the problems he describes, for the great majority the challenges remain more basic. The problem is that many manufacturers have yet to be convinced there are approaches to category management workable for anyone apart from the big boys. Conferences and publications on the subject remain almost exclusively big company-focused. Jargon and complexity abound. A number of consultancies peddle approaches to category management that risk deterring all but the most numerate. All this distracts people from the clearly sensible fundamentals: manufacturers and retailers working together to maximise category profits by focusing on consumers. Category management work can be, and is, successfully undertaken by smaller manufacturers using only moderate amounts of number crunching, plenty of common sense and a good dose of management insight. Surely the greatest scope for progress lies in encouraging this kind of approach, which enables a larger number of manufacturers to contribute positively to category development. Jonathan Smith Axis Management Consulting Malmesbury, Wiltshire {{LETTERS }}