Sunda Patel Retailer

Says: I have three stores and a ­variety of different chillers in each one. I only go for branded chillers for soft drinks, particularly Coke and Pepsi fridges. There are contingencies though: Pepsi only lets you stock one third of another brand and Coke doesn't let you stock any other drink brands in its fridges, although it is becoming more flexible. I would like a non-branded soft drinks chiller, but you get deals with branded ones that make sense. Irn Bru, for example, makes you buy the fridge, but they give you the value of the fridge in stock at the same time. Pepsi and Coke give you the fridge for free. And considering I don't think the customer cares what the fridge looks like, it makes sense to go for these deals.

Alcohol is different though. I have a Stella branded fridge but there's not much room for stock. About 90% of sales of beer come from the fridge, so you need lots of room. I have a non-branded fridge too and a built-in chiller.

You get good deals with some beer and soft drink brands, so it makes sense to use them. But with a non-branded fridge you can put what you like in it and that helps with beer and wine.

Charlotte Morey Trading manager, MBL

Says: Branded chillers are pro­vided free by manufacturers and offer independent retailers a quick and simple solution to upgrading their soft drinks ­offer. However, they generally come with strict terms, which often involve over-facing of the manufacturer's brands by more than is warranted. This doesn't neces­sarily offer the best return on shelf space and you might want to add in other products to offer the best range.

In partnership with a supplier, we offer Budgens and Londis inde­pendents two options. If they undertake a major refit, they get an open deck remote chiller which links to the main electrical system and offers extra capacity for a wider range. Or we can supply a free on-loan integral chiller, with less capacity. In both cases, they are required to merchandise to our planograms, but they only have to take 30% of the supplier brands.

There are three key factors - space, display and range. It's all about availability. We recommend locating the chiller alongside sandwiches and bagged snacks. In c-stores, 72% of soft drinks are sold after noon, so the lunchtime trade is crucial.

John Ibbotson MD, Retail Vision

Says: I don't think it makes much difference to sales whether the chiller is branded or not. The cate­gory is highly branded but is highlighting one brand on the chiller likely to increase total sales?

Chilled drinks are a classic impulse category. The customer sees the chiller and, if he/she is thirsty, will then go through the decision hierarchy of selecting one - what sub-category, brand, size/pack, probably in that order.

The choice grows every year. Does one brand message help the customer or increase total category sales? It may influence the decision away from another brand but I don't think it will do anything for your total sales. Trying to influence the decision towards Coke, say, away from Pepsi is increasingly less relevant when customers want more bottled waters, pure juice, functional drinks, health drinks, energy drinks and zero sugar.

Branded or not, what's most important is that the chiller is positioned at the front of your