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Morrisons rap suppliers for lack of collaboration in brand development

Published:  19 February, 2016

The Morrisons wine team is putting out clear messages to suppliers for 2016 and 2017, saying that the team wants to develop a collaborative approach with suppliers and brand developers, to ensure that those suppliers bring out products that suit the supermarket's specific needs.

"Don't bring us finished new brands and expect us to stock them," is the confident message from Morrisons wine buyer Andrew Ingham. "Come and talk to us first, and let's develop products together."

"The most frustrating thing is that most suppliers assume they know better than us. They bring us a done-and-dusted new brand, with a one-size-fits all mentality."

Buoyed by a strong Christmas performance and boosted by their 2015 International Wine Challenge Wine Supermarket of the Year win, Morrisons stance is based on a plethora of customer insight and data gathered from over 12 million customer transactions per week.

Another clear bugbear for Ingham is that, in an effort to implement more effective channel management strategies, suppliers will pigeonhole certain brands in the mulitple grocers' sector.

Meanwhile, there is a clear range review process in place at Morrisons to bring greater focus to the European category. As senior wine sourcing manager Mark Jarman highlighted: "At the moment, we overtrade heavily in the New World, which accounts for over 60% of our sales."

The focus is now on redressing this balance. As a result of recent changes, the French category grew by 3% over the 12 weeks to 6 February 2016, against a market average of 1.8%. Spain and Italy are also key development areas this year.

Morrisons have not slashed their SKU count, but have learnt to use the space wisely, removing duplication and heavy discount brands, ensuring that every single SKU stands up on its own merit. This has freed up space for a simpler structure, new wines, and the addition of new producers, especially from France.

Own brand sales have more than doubled in the last two years at Morrisons, now accounting from just under 20% of sales, with a target of 25% for 2016, and a strategy of "product excellence" at the core of the own brand strategy.

The message to suppliers is clear: "Don't tell us what we can and can't stock."