International suppliers only get one chance to crack the UK grocery market so they must get their proposition right first time.
This was the view of a panel of distribution experts speaking at a seminar on targeting the UK market at IFE.
Patrick Gooch, of RGS Consultancy and a former director of Foods from Spain, said the UK was a tough nut to crack due to a number of factors including language barriers, stringent quality controls and retailers’ demands.
However, the rewards for getting it right were often higher than in other countries and the UK could be a springboard to the rest of the EU.
Henry Amar, chairman of fine food importer RH Amar, said the most crucial aspect of getting products to market was finding the right distributor. He said: “You have to ask yourselves a number of questions. Are we going to get paid? Does the distributor have sufficient exposure to the right market? Does the distributor have the logistical capacity? And finally: do we like these people?”
Amar was unable to allay suppliers’ fears that the UK multiples imposed difficult terms and conditions and also asked suppliers for unreasonable levels of support for their brands.
He said: “As far as I am concerned, the current code of conduct is completely irrelevant. No suppliers are likely to publicly criticise a particular retailer for fear of retribution. All that suppliers can do is try and build trust with retailers and support their products and promotions as best they can.”
Ronan Hegarty