Q&A competitor analysis in terms of top selling lines in the local market (quality, value, varieties). Northern Ireland consumers are cautious by nature and are in general willing to try new varieties, but tend to revert to buying traditional recipes such as Chicken & Vegetable. HAS THE CONTRACT OPENED UP YOUR BUSINESS TO NEW MARKETS? The enjoy local soup contract is extremely positive and encouraging for a small business like Big Pot Co. It has opened up a new market in SPAR convenience stores. Overall our business sales have increased by over 30%, and we would expect this to continue and improve even further.
Alison Seaney is pictured (centre) at the Henderson Wholesale Local Supplier Awards held during the Balmoral Show 2016, where Big Pot Co. won Highly Commended in the enjoy local Supplier of the Year category.
Focus on fresh Alison Seaney, director at Big Pot Co, Ballynahinch, tells UG about working with the Henderson Group.
TELLS US ABOUT YOURSELF I am a food technologist, with over 20 years of food industry experience, who created Big Pot Co. in 2009 with a passion to develop and produce a range of fresh ‘home-made quality, convenient soups’ for retail and foodservice markets. From a farming background, I have a clear set of values I focus on: sourcing fresh local ingredients to ensure the quality and consistency of each and every batch; providing home-made quality convenience; high quality fresh, affordable, authentic traditional recipes; consumer trends (local, health, convenience); and simple, real goodness. WHEN DID YOU BEGIN SUPPLYING TO THE HENDERSON GROUP? I began supplying the Henderson Group in January 2016. Our business relationship
began in July 2015, when I was given the opportunity by Henderson Wholesale to meet with the trading manager to discuss developing their enjoy local soup range. We developed a range of three, which gained approval in August 2015. Product specifications and packaging design approval and print followed ready for launch. WHICH PRODUCTS ARE PERFORMING BEST? The range is performing very well and everyone has their own favourite but the enjoy local Chicken & Vegetable Soup appears to be the most popular. HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT DECIDING WHICH PRODUCTS TO SUPPLY? The trading manager and I carried out
DO YOU HAVE ANY PLANS TO INTRODUCE MORE LINES THIS YEAR? Yes we have been given the fantastic opportunity by Henderson’s to develop some products for an exciting new range to fit into the Tonight’s Tea range that has been evolving across the SPAR, EUROSPAR, VIVO and VOVXTRA outlets. These new products meet the need of busy households that are time pressured to put a meal on the table. We have been challenged to deliver a high quality convenient product made from fresh local ingredients and, by working with the trading team, we are confident we will achieve our goals. These will hopefully be hitting the shelves for autumn/winter. ARE THERE ANY SPECIFIC CHALLENGES ASSOCIATED WITH SUPPLYING TO THE WIDER RETAIL SECTOR? Every challenge is an opportunity! There is a lot of hard work and long hours in terms of speed, accuracy and integration of product development and launch. Communication with the team members involved is key to success. The moment you see new products in stores that you have helped make happen is a great feeling. HAS THE HENDERSON GROUP CONTRACT GIVEN YOU ANY SPECIFIC INSIGHT INTO THE WIDER RETAIL MARKET? Yes, working with the Henderson Group has shown me that they are extremely proactive in meeting consumer needs in terms of product ranges. Once they have identified and evaluated an opportunity, they are very quick to work with suitable local suppliers to make it a reality. They have encouraged Big Pot Co to expand and grow in an exciting new category.