Nigel Briggs, MRPNI

Nigel Briggs, MRPNI
Nigel Briggs, MRPNI

Nigel Briggs, managing director, Musgrave Retail Partners NI, looks back over 2013 and what’s in store for the coming year…

Over the past year, Musgrave Retail Partners (MRPNI) has made continued progress in further developing and improving the offer which our SuperValu, Centra and Mace retail partners provide in their local communities across Northern Ireland.

These improvements have been founded on understanding the changing consumer, and in working closely with our representative Retailer Councils in shaping the content, communication and execution of the offer, to drive sales and profit.

In the course of the last year, we have implemented major initiatives on retail pricing, own brand, wrapped bread and in-store bakery, as well as further developing ‘different and better’ promotions, which aim to provide real stand out for our brands in a crowded market.

In 2013, we invested substantially in lowering prices – with over 2,000 retail prices lowered in SuperValu and Centra and wholesale prices reduced in tandem to fully maintain retail margins. This initiative was supported by a strong multi-media marketing campaign, under the banner of ‘Price Drop’.

Subsequently ‘Price Match’ was introduced in SuperValu, with over 1,000 products matching Tesco, again with retail margins fully maintained.

Retailers also benefitted from MRPNI’s largest ever single investment in retailer rebate increases – enhancing retailer probability in these tough times, and to a level which is in marked contrast to our competitors.

We continued to develop our Own Brand ranges with the Centra Own Brand range extended and fully repackaged in a bright new contemporary design and the ‘Daily Basics’ value range, which, on average, provides price points 50 per cent cheaper than the leading brands also enhanced.

SuperValu and Centra’s wrapped bread offer was completely restructured, with average retail price reductions of over 10 per cent, as well as increased retail margins, meaning we have now by far the most competitive wrapped bread offering in the independent sector.

Our in-store bakery offer was also fully reworked through the introduction of our ‘Baked Today’ range which was directly sourced from suppliers across Europe, enabled by the scale of Musgrave’s direct buying power – with the new range available in all three brands.

The scale and strength of the wider Musgrave Group, which now partners more than 3,500 independent food retail stores, with combined turnover of over £6 billion, will continue to benefit SuperValu, Centra and Mace retailers in Northern Ireland as we move forward – with increasing focus on leveraging our direct buying power, to improve pricing and margin structures as well as the quality and impact of our range of retailer supports, on an ongoing basis.

Indeed, the scale of our direct purchasing opposite suppliers remains a key reason as to why Musgrave remains the best long-term partner for progressive independent retailers in this market.

All in all, this unparalleled level of brand development activity has enabled us to more than hold our own over the past year, in what is a tough and challenging market, with a further series of brand developments and initiatives – in product range, pricing, promotional activity and supply chain – planned for 2014, laying a solid foundation for real growth in retailer sales and profitability over the next few years.

On Mace, our focus going forward will be on the wholesale offer, with a view to improving wholesale pricing, supported by a range of simplification initiatives aimed at making Musgrave easier to do business with, and differentiating us from our wholesale competitors.

Musgrave has and will continue to invest heavily in the offer – both for our retailers and their shoppers – with substantial improvements in pricing and rebates to be introduced through 2014.

The year ahead will undoubtedly bring further challenge to the sector, with competition between wholesalers for the business of independent retailers, and between retailers for shoppers, certain to intensify still further.

In Musgrave, we believe ourselves well-placed to meet the challenges of economy, market and competition – working in partnership with our retailers to better understand and meet consumer needs, in order to drive sales and enhance profitability on an ongoing basis.