Tips on negotiating with retailers
Getting your product to the customers will almost certainly be via a retail outlet. Negotiating with retailers is tricky and is very much dependent on the product you’re selling, and the buyers you find yourself faced with. Here are some firsthand accounts and tips from the food manufacturers who’ve been there and done it:
“Prior to production we made some leaflets and started knocking on the doors of shops and distributors. Our initial thinking was that if we could get into individual shops, that would be a great start. Most of the people we contacted put in advance orders for a box or two. It meant when production started, we already had a market to go to.” – Bhujwalla, American Muffin Co.
“We started very slowly when it came to negotiating with retailers. Because we were in Borough Market they actually started coming to us. It’s easier when you’re the one being pursued. When you push for it you’re more likely to suffer feelings of rejection.” – Lotte Garner, Southern Alps.
“Pipers Crisps don’t deal with the multiples. I have nothing against them but I just think there are plenty of other routes to market without supplying them. We decided there’s a place out there for being the best producer of handmade crisps for niche markets. I had a very short conversation with Al Fayed at Harrods and he suggested producing an own-brand label product for the store. I won’t do that kind of thing. I’m building my own brand and don’t want to be distracted.” – Alex Albone, Pipers Crisps.
“When it comes to dealing with the supermarkets you really need a USP, which we feel we’ve developed with our gluten free muffins. But negotiating with them takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight. We’ve been in talks with them for the best part of two years.” – Zoeb Bhujwalla, American Muffin Co.
“Taking on a big customer like a supermarket is probably the biggest challenge you face. The difficulty is assessing what you need to supply them. We’ve burned our fingers in the past but you need to make sure you have a back-up plan so you can walk away intact.” – Lotte Garner, Southern Alps.