Suppliers must raise game in retail relations, says retailer

Planters Garden Centre managing director Gerald Ingram believes relationships between retailers and suppliers could be more fraught in the future.

He told delegates at the HTA conference last week: "We're searching for the best deal and we'd like to be faithful but it's not possible all the time."

Suppliers needed to do more to hold up their end of the relationship. One example he cited was ensuring reps were up to scratch because they could make or break a relationship. "They are the most important people in your business - it's how they react, how they solve problems, what their personal relationships are like and how they get on with the till operators."

Great innovation was required and suppliers needed to develop new markets. TV adverts were a good way to reach large markets with the Cuprinol fence sprayer and the Miracle Gro LiquaFeed good examples of suppliers thinking of the consumer. Growth in the industry was coming from products outside the traditional lines - they sold more cards than seeds and more beer than Tomorite.

Ingram's other suggestions were quicker turnarounds on orders, returns and credit notes and someone in the office at weekends, which is often the busiest time of the week. He also called for a level playing field on price.

Tips for suppliers

  • Look at what a retailer can sell and work backwards
  • Your sales representative is your most important asset
  • Keep your word on what sales support you will offer
  • Turn around orders quickly
  • Pick up returns and issue credit notes quickly
  • Keep wholesale pricing simple
  • Send display stands out before or with stock
  • Test new IT systems before using them on customers
  • Garden centres will expect rewards for taking plants early


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