Continued consolidation in the retail market will force a gradual polarisation of the supply base into dedicated niche players or large, ultra-efficient category captains, the boss of Uniq’s UK business has predicted.
Speaking at Uniq’s new plant in Minsterley, which will gradually absorb desserts production from sites at Newton Abbot and Evercreech, Uniq prepared foods MD Jed Kenrick said the future belonged to small, nimble suppliers or those with real category clout.
“Medium-sized, inefficient businesses will simply not survive,” he said.
Uniq’s leading position in private label desserts, boosted by the recent acquisition of Northern Foods’ Minsterley factory, had helped it win new business with Morrisons, he said.
“Morrisons handled new ranging negotiations after the deal with incredible pace. We were worried in January as we did very little with Morrisons, but we have since picked up business in salads and desserts.”
The fact that 45% of Uniq’s UK business was with M& S was an opportunity rather than a cause for alarm, he added. “They are doing the right things by rationalising their ranges and supply base and I hope we stand to gain as we have strong positions in several categories.”
He added. “We have got to make npd work harder; to launch one successful product instead of six average ones. We are also putting in more automation and thinking about where we can take cost out.”
Factories at Newton Abbot and Evercreech were likely to close in March 2005 and January 2006 respectively, while the sandwich plant at Devises would be sold and production transferred to Northampton.
The major opportunities for Uniq in desserts lay in kids ranges under the Starburst brand, fromage frais and healthy desserts, said Kenrick.