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Looking ahead: Michael Saunders, CEO, Bibendum PLB

Published:  12 August, 2019

As the first half of 2019 draws to a close, Harpers asked key trade figures to highlight the current challenges, ongoing trends and opportunities

We continue our series with insights from Michael Saunders, chief executive, Bibendum PLB

How has the first half of 2019 been when compared to the same period in 2018?

We are in a completely different world. Business is going very well. Sales are growing and we are full of optimism for the future under the ownership of C&C and all the stability that brings. 

What were the highs and lows for your own business in the first six months of 2019?

Lows – really aren’t any to comment on. Highs – all over the business. Continued rapid recovery; high retention of clients; and some significant new customer wins achieved alongside great support from our broad supply base.

What, currently, are the biggest challenges for the trade?

The uncertainties that face us all. Do I have to use the ‘B’ word – with the associated potential consequences of disruption and currency volatility?

Will you be preparing in any way for a second potential ‘no deal’ or some deal Brexit day on 31 October and, if so, how?

Yes – as we did for March 2019. With significant investment in having the right stock in place before October 31st.

Taking current trading conditions into account, what’s your strategy for meeting those challenges during the second half of the year, leading up to the crucial Christmas trading period?

It’s a time to be focused on doing the basics right – and providing great service to customers. To do that we need stability and financial resource – especially given the stock build needed for the Christmas period.

What will the focus be on with regard to your portfolio (and any updates) and why?

We will continue on the path we are on now. Excellence in all areas; and a wide range in all categories to give choice and innovation. Given the speed of change in today’s world, having real knowledge through real insight is critical.

For you, what are the most significant emerging trends in the drinks world?

The shifts in what people are drinking. And the fast emergence of ‘no and low’. Lots of opportunities there. But alongside that comes threats to the established order.

What innovations in the drinks world do you believe will have the most impact going forward?

The move by younger people to drink less alcohol. If this continues or even accelerates, it will, over time, fundamentally reshape our industry.

What, for you, would make for a perfect summer?

Sun – and not reading the papers every day. Alongside some great drinks of course…