Independent retailers say suppliers are not doing enough to help them compete with the multiples and promote responsible drinking.
Retailers at the Federation of Wholesale Distributors’ Drinksummit conference blamed suppliers for not forging more personal links with independents.
They said companies should do more to keep them updated on category trends, ad campaigns and growth opportunities – for example, through password-access websites, DVDs and internet streaming.
Steve Morris, of Londis in Shrewsbury, asked suppliers to make personal visits to stores rather than using “aggressive telesales techniques”.
He said: “We need better understanding by the industry. Spend more time with us and less time with the multiples.”
“Unfortunately drinks reps are virtually non-existent nowadays,” said Terry Fieldhouse, of TC’s Minimarket, Rotherham.
Suppliers should also do more to help retailers promote responsible drinking and the Drinkaware Trust, and give advice on thorny issues such as selling white cider, the conference heard.
Mark Johnson, of Celebrations, Stockport, said: “Drinkaware has had a lot of lip service from the multiples. Independents could steal the march on getting behind the responsible drinking message”.
But Diageo RTM channel director Paul Downing said retailers must do their bit if they want suppliers to help them more – by adopting industry initiatives as PLOD to bring spirits out from behind the counter, which he said just 100 shops countrywide have signed up to so far.
“Cost of goods has gone through the roof, which means we have no surplus cash and are under huge pressures internally. Help me help you by offering something back,” he said.
Coors pledged to ramp up its activity with independents. Implementation director Paul Higgs promised “100,000 direct marketing and telesales calls, and 40,000 direct store visits in 2008”. He said mail drops would help the brewer communicate “on a more consistent basis”.