Tag Archives: DEFRA

Government officials took time off from Brexit negotiations last month to launch two crucial initiatives: A ‘traffic light’ scheme from DEFRA proposing retailers add red, amber or green labels to show if their packaging is recyclable. And a ‘calorie cap’ recommendation to limit the size of takeaway pizzas. A pleasant change to worrying about Brexit no doubt but rather missing the point – the need to reduce consumption. Curbing the volume of unnecessary packaging and banning double sausage and egg McMuffins would be a start. Quite how HMG would implement these proposals is not clear. Maybe Brexit will provide an answer.

The LADS must be doing something right.

Meanwhile the quarterly results for the LADS (Limited Assortment Discounters i.e. Aldi and Lidl) show they continue to bite chunks out of the ‘Big Four’ supermarkets. Lidl boosted sales by 10% and Aldi by 15%, partly from new store openings and partly from own-label product lines. The Co-op also did well with turnover up 7%. By comparison Asda and Morrison increased sales by 2.4% but Tesco only managed 0.9% and Sainsbury 0.6%. The LADS must be doing something right.

Variety is the spice of life.

Retail analysts have pointed fingers at the oversupply of supermarket space by the Big Four, problems with suppliers and poor variety. Reducing product lines to reduce prices has been adopted by Tesco to compete with the LADS but I think they’re missing the point. Variety is the spice of life. It‘s what makes a Market successful.

Morrisons offers the best variety in the UK

My holiday comparison between Aldi and Intermarche (France) and Morrisons and Tesco (UK) was an eyeopener. OK, the prices are higher in the EU thanks to exchange rates but the sheer variety on offer in France is far wider. Morrisons offers the best variety in the UK and their sales confirm as much but Intermarche simply crams more product lines into the same floor space.

Note for Market Managers – Variety attracts footfall.

A pallet of engine oil at the end of an Aldi aisle might seem odd but expectation of a ‘Managers offer’ or an ‘own-brand special’ attracts footfall. Maybe it’s time for you to stooge around the competition and offer seasonal specials.

Note for Market Stallholders – Look at refreshing your offer on a regular basis.

In direct response to the challenge of the LADS Tesco launched ‘Jack’s’ last month – it’s new brand of discount store. It used a mothballed store development in Chatteris to offer limited range, no frills displays, short -term discounts and an emphasis on British suppliers. ‘The cheapest in town’ said Lawrence Harvey, retail director of Jack’s – but only locally, not nationally. My suspicion is this is not going to cut it with an Aldi or Lidl shopper who enjoys cheap (if oddly-named) chocolate across the UK.

Retail analysts have reminded everyone of Sainsbury’s Danish experience

Retail analysts have reminded everyone of Sainsbury’s Danish experience. It dipped a toe in the discount pool four years ago when it partnered with Dansk Supermarket Group to bring discounter Netto to the UK in a £25m partnership. It trialled 16 stores at discounted prices but folded the partnership two years later because of an ‘increasingly competitive market’

Do you go for high-volume ‘pile it high, sell it cheap’ sales

And therein lies the dilemma for many Market businesses. Do you go for high-volume ‘pile it high, sell it cheap’ sales with a limited variety you can buy cheaply in bulk, or do you push high-margin niche products for which you have specialist knowledge? My money is on the latter.

Checkouts will soon verify age using facial recognition technology

Finally, those of us fortunate enough to still enjoy youthful good looks will be relieved to learn checkouts will soon verify age using facial recognition technology. ‘Fastlane’ self-service checkout manufacturer NCR has announced a partnership with software company YOTI to integrate a camera and age assessment technology into self-service tills.

No longer will we need to answer tedious questions and produce proof of age when buying age-restricted goods such as booze, fags, knives, fireworks, X-rated DVD’s etc.

Waiting for age approval at self-checkouts is a source of frustration

Robin Tombs, chief executive of Yoti, said: ‘Waiting for age approval at self-checkouts is a source of frustration for many shoppers who just want to get home as quickly as possible. It’s a simple process that helps retailers meet the requirements of regulators worldwide’.

Hmmm… NCR did not confirm whether their tills will breathalyse the shopper to determine if he/she is already plastered (selling to them would also be an offence) or whether it will remove the security tag on your bottle of gin.

Facial recognition

News-Westminster palace

The recent heatwave has got everyone hot under the collar – none more so than MP’s keen to reject a pay RISE. Whilst the country was sweltering the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) proposed a cool 11% hike in MP’s salaries from their basic £66,396 to £75,000 per annum ‘after years of pay restraint’.

The Conservatives considered it ‘entirely inappropriate’ that Government should cost more in times of austerity.

This triggered the Party Leaders to outdo each other in rejecting any increase. PM David Cameron kicked-off by saying the Conservatives considered it ‘entirely inappropriate’ that Government should cost more in times of austerity. His deputy Nick Clegg responded for the LibDems who consider it ‘totally incomprehensible’ given the restraint imposed on other public sector workers. Finally, Ed Milliband topped them both by announcing Labour rejected any increase outright and if it was imposed then personally he won’t accept it.

Westminster watchers are waiting to see if this goes nuclear. Will IPSA be disbanded as part of the public sector cuts and party leaders impose a pay CUT on all MP’s? That’s one way to show solidarity with the country and win the next election.

PR campaign to convince the EU genetically-modified food is the solution to food price hikes.

This news was less than welcome to well-meaning Environment Secretary Owen Paterson who was already having a bad month. Only three weeks after launching his PR campaign to convince the EU genetically-modified food is the solution to food price hikes the world’s leading GM seed producer, Monsanto, announced it was pulling out of Europe.

The Company confirmed it was withdrawing all it’s applications for new crops in frustration at EU delays in approvals. ‘As the EU today is effectively a conventional seed market…we will focus on enabling imports of biotech crops’ it said. In other words: ‘We won’t grow GM in the EU but we will continue to sell GM produce’. Hmmmmmm… Maybe Greenpeace and the Prince of Wales should postpone any celebration.

Meanwhile other campaigners were also having a poke at Owens department, Defra. They launched fresh calls for a ‘plastic bag levy’ in England after it was revealed a record-breaking 7 billion single-use plastic bags were handed out to shoppers last year. The figures from WRAP – the Waste and Resources Action Programme – confirmed that ‘Bags for Life’ sales fell whilst suggesting that top-up shopping at convenience stores was causing the rise, together with online groceries delivered in plastic bags.

England is the only part of the UK which does not have a levy on plastic bags and saw a 4.4% increase in bag usage last year.

In Wales, where a 5p levy was introduced in 2011 usage has plunged by 76 per cent so Samantha Harding, spokesperson for the ‘Break the Bag Habit’ Coalition, said there was ‘no credible excuse’ left for not imposing a levy.

But Owen Paterson’s department, Defra prevaricated and said: ‘We’re considering all the relevant factors, including the pressure on household budgets’ and ‘We intend to work with the industry to encourage the development of a viable biodegradable carrier bag’.

What is not clear is why Defra needs to get involved at all. The Welsh Assembly just introduced a ban and waited for retailers to find solutions, which they were commendably quick to do.

Tesco and Asda have admitted their ‘Everyday Value’ and ‘Smartprice’ Still Water is actually tap water.

Finally, do you remember the episode of ‘Only Fools and Horses’ where Delboy rebottled tap water to sell it as ‘Peckham Spring’? Hilarious – and like all good ideas quickly copied by the competition. Tesco and Asda have admitted their ‘Everyday Value’ and ‘Smartprice’ Still Water is actually tap water bought at one third of a penny per litre before being bottled and sold on for 17p for two litres. Apart from the massive profit margin this makes sense because tap water has already been filtered with chlorine to polish off any nasties. Tesco though were then accused of taking the proverbial in the heatwave by hiking the price for two litres from 17p to 24p.

This not-entirely-earthshaking news was revealed in Cardiff when NHS nurse Ross Evans, 33, went shopping at the Culverhouse Cross Tesco to buy water for his patients. Quite why an NHS nurse was buying water for his patients is unclear but strange things happen in Cardiff. You may remember how Tesco Cardiff barred the Jedi Knight brotherhood from shopping whilst wearing their hooded robes. And banned Elaine Carmody and her friends for shopping in their pyjamas and bare feet.

Anyway, the 33-year old father-of-two said: ‘I didn’t expect Tesco to be so immoral as to put up the price of water in the middle of heatwave and cash in on people’s misery. This is shameless profiteering. When I realised the price of the bottles had gone up from 17p to 24p I put them down again and walked out.’

Beer may well be a better choice.