THIS MONTH WE ASKED SOME OF THE KEY PEOPLE IN THE TRADE TO TELL US THEIR PREDICTIONS AND VIEWPOINT ON THE YEAR AHEAD. THANKS TO:
Andrew Morrison, Sales Director, MAXXIUM UK; John Gemmell, Commercial Director, HEINEKEN UK; Stuart Ellis, UK Sales Manager, Gordon & MacPhail; James Byrne, Retail Development Manager, Molson Coors; Steve Anand, Sales Director, Inverarity Morton; Alan Hay, Sales Director On-Trade, Tennent’s; Peter Risk, Senior National Account Manager, Diageo; Harry Greenhalgh, On-Trade Category Manager, William Grant & Sons UK Ltd. This is what they had to say:-
IN YOUR VIEW, IS THERE STILL ROOM FOR INDEPENDENT OPERATORS TO COMPETE WITH NATIONAL PUB COMPANIES?
ANDREW MORRISON: Absolutely. Key players in Scotland were all at one time independent operators starting with one outlet; Buzzworks, Montpelier’s, Signature, G1, Manorview, Caledonian Heritable, etc – to name but a few. Regional MOs have successfully taken on the national chains and are often quicker to react to consumer trends.
JOHN GEMMELL: Of course there is room for independent operators. Some of the most vibrant, progressive and customer focused operators are independent. Often free of corporate restrictions and much more fleet of foot, the independent is alive and well. The key remains availability of sites and we are now seeing freed trade operators also taking on leased opportunities and balancing their risk.
STUART ELLIS: Without any doubt, independent operators have the opportunity to offer something different away from the national operators who will often implement a ‘one size fits all’ ethos in terms of range of products stocked. Whereas the independents can offer more locally sourced range of products, this is particularly relevant with the current growth of gins but could also be applied to other categories including beer and whisky.
STEVE ANAND: Absolutely, especially in Scotland. The Scottish licensed trade has been built on entrepreneurial independents, and the innovation that Scotland is famed for coupled with the passion, pride and customer service standards, will continue to keep independents at the forefront of the licensed trade. National operators consistently look towards the Scottish On trade for inspiration. The consumer trends of local, traceable, social, premiumisation and experiential show no sign of subsiding and mean independent operators, who are more fleet of foot than many national pub companies, should be better placed to take advantage of trends.
ALAN HAY: There’s absolutely room for the independent free trade to compete with the big pub companies in Scotland. We’ve always maintained a great relationship and supported the free trade which makes up 60% of the licensed trade in Scotland. They set a unique character for hospitality in Scotland and are loved by locals and visitors alike. The independent free trade are often the innovators of the industry, leading the way with new ideas, taking risks and being entrepreneurial, which is something we admire and are always keen to support in any way we can.
PETER RISK: Most definitely. Independent operators and national pub companies both face the same growth opportunity. Growth will come through meeting the consumer need for the right experience, quality and value for the right occasions. Quite often independent operators are more agile and able to meet these needs quicker than the national pub companies.
HARRY GREENHALGH: Yes, we believe the market is very competitive but there is still room for IFT accounts. This has been evidenced by IFT accounts growing by +£41.6m (+1.5%) over the last year. It is important for independent operators to play within growth areas of the market and have an offering in; premium gin (+23.1%) and malt whiskey (+6.8%).