Achieving a listing with a multiple retailer is definitely a major achievement for any small enterprise.
That said, the relationship should be entered into cautiously. Volumes generally surpass any expectations you may have had and there can be a risk of putting all your eggs into one basket. Other existing and potential customers should be sought out. Then if the relationship falters there is growth to be enjoyed elsewhere.
Managing the nuts and bolts of the relationship and the day-to-day running of the account is essential. The myth of multiples not paying on time is exactly that. Tesco pays literally on the day payment is expected.
However, any issues, invoicing or whatever, will take an age to sort out. The retailer will also expect the wheel to be reinvented continually, so NPD is essential. Keep offering new ideas. They will not all work but only one is necessary to maintain the relationship and the growth.
Liz Marchant Director and co-founder The Craigmyle Cheese Company
Our business is based very firmly in a belief in good, local organic produce. The cheese we produce in our tiny creamery is made entirely by hand and with a lot of care. When we planned the business, getting into the multiples was never an objective - we set out to supply small, specialist delis and shops, hotels and restaurants that are discerning about food. We stand by this ethos today.
We have been approached by a supermarket and I am sure we will be approached by others as consumers increasingly seek quality, organic produce, but this is not what we want to do. Firstly we want to support the independents and supply them with produce that cannot be bought in the supermarket, and secondly we would never want Mr Supermarket dictating exactly what weight our product could be and how it should look.
We are so small here that we could never produce the quantities that multiples would demand anyway and we enjoy the relationship we have with so many direct customers.