Christmas is known as the busiest time of the year for retail. In 2015, Irish households were to spend an average of over €2,500 during the festive period. With an increase of 68% on sales during the Black Friday weekend, Christmas 2016 is set to be a great time for retailers.
Check out our interview with Colin Hennessy, Field Sales Manager for the LRS NI Team, to get a true insight into how he and his team prepare in the run-up to Christmas.
About Colin Hennessy
Prior to his appointment on CPM, Colin had more than 10 years working in FMCG, with blue-chip companies. Starting out as a merchandiser for Coca-Cola after University, he worked his way through various roles with Diageo NI and the Kellogg Company.
2016 has been a busy year for LRS with the activation of many successful NPD launches such as Lucozade ZERO and Ribena Minis. Colin adds that 2016 has also been busy from a personnel point of view, with 2 reps being promoted to new roles and the hiring of 3 new people into the team; 2017 is poised to be a successful year with a full complement of staff geared up from day 1.
1. Now that Halloween has come and gone I guess its full steam ahead for Christmas?
Absolutely, Christmas is a critical time of year for LRS, so it is paramount that stores need to be set up as early as possible to ensure the promotional stock is activated and pulled through as quick as possible. We have a full team out at work, and with little or no leave booked in December, it will be ‘all hands on deck’ to ensure it is the best Christmas yet for LRS in Northern Ireland.
2. How many hours will your team work in stores between now and Christmas?
We will be clocking in close to 3,000hrs between now and Christmas, so will all be looking forward to a well-deserved break come the time
3. What is your team currently working on for Christmas?
The Promotional campaigns are best I’ve seen, but for Christmas we are focussing primarily of Lucozade Energy with a range of formats being promoted across all symbols. The relationships that the reps have with customers ensure that the LRS displays out-weigh and outnumber those of the competition. However whilst, displays of Take-Home packs is a key priority, the team never lose focus of the Chiller, where they continue to drive distribution of core lines and reduce Out-Of-Stocks, thereby ensuring that space at the Point-of-Purchase remains ahead of the LRS Market Share.
4. Can we expect to see any clever POS or marketing campaigns in store for the run-up to the festive period?
The Lucozade Energy Find Your Flow campaign has proved extremely successful, so it will have a Christmas twist put on it. From 5th December it will be unmissable on the Outdoor advertising locations, on Bus T-Sides, Bus Shelters and Billboards (image below). NI will benefit from TV investment in ROI from these channels that air up North.
In-store, the traditional FSUs have been remade specifically with a Christmas theme, and the team will be placing 300 of these across all stores between now and the big day. Additional to the FSUs we have Christmas Bunting, Cooler Toopers and Shelf Wobblers to get consumers into the spirit with Lucozade. Pictured is a window in Centra Derry, as well as a number of the Xmas POS already in-store.
5. When did you start planning with your client for Christmas?
Officially, we kicked off Christmas back on 17th October at our Regional Sales Meeting in the Canal Court Hotel, Newry. We were joined at this meeting by the Lucozade Energy Brand Manager who shared the Brand Plans for the festive period. Here we also shared the Channel Plans with the Sales Team and discussed how we could all make it the biggest and best Christmas so far. However, since it is such an important time of year, I began planning for this event back in the summer
6. When did you start negotiating in store to gain the Christmas space?
The Sales-Team have great relationships with their customers, and they are privileged to be selling world class brands and cutting edge promotions, and as they work on a 3 weekly call cycle, they constantly sell space for displays and defend the great space gained in the chiller. The Christmas deals all kicked off at the start of the month, so our Sales Team were pre-selling these deals mid-October and booking space for these then
7. How have you done so far this year vs last year?
Although it is still early days, we are ahead of PY on Sales and also ahead of budget. And with some great promotions following on from the current ones, we are planning to come on year end ahead of plan which will be a fantastic delivery.
8. What tips would you give FMCG brands vying for their extra share of space in store each Christmas?
Get in early, book your space and defend it to the hilt. At this time of year competition is fierce, with FSUs appearing from companies that you would never see except at this time. The relationships that our sales-team have are fabulous, and we are very fortunate the we are selling fantastic products backed up by killer price points and in formats the consumer wants. Northern Ireland is only 1 of two markets in the world where a LRS Brand is the No.1 in it’s category – that is of course, Lucozade Energy – the No.1 Brand in Drink Now Category