Tesco shares secrets of success

Food from Britain’s (FFB) International Networking Event has been hailed as a success, with delegates treated to valuable insights into Tesco’s international strategy from International Buying Director Matt Simister.

Representatives from some of the UK’s leading food and drink export companies gathered at Lancaster House at the event on 16 May to hear Mr Simister’s presentation. They also heard from Premier Foods’ Pete Banks on Quorn’s export success, and James Walker, Managing Director of Walkers Shortbread, who enthused about how export success can drive a company. The afternoon was devoted to one-on-one meetings with experts from FFB’s entire international network, providing a valuable opportunity to discuss export potential in a huge range of markets.

According to Mr Simister, the importance of supplying produce to suit various cultures and market conditions is a major barrier to the consolidation of supply chains, as products have to be tailored to individual markets. However, this does not mean there are not opportunities for British suppliers overseas.

Tesco’s International Buying Office exists to drive the creation of a consistent high-quality Tesco brand across the international network by using the supplier relationship systems developed in the UK. By using the UK model, Tesco plans to improve the reputation of its brands in markets that have previously seen its products as being low quality and cheap.

According to Mr Simister, this presents excellent opportunities for UK-based suppliers to grow with Tesco as it looks to develop its Central European and Asian markets in partnership with what it sees as business partners.

Quorn’s success explained

Having senior management committed to export, concerted PR and marketing, pre-launch market research, and utilising the services of FFB were all cited by Premier Foods’ Pete Banks as reasons for Quorn’s success as an export product.

Quorn is currently exported to Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland and the USA, and comprises 23% of the total sales of Premier Foods’ company Marlow Foods.

Mr Banks explained how important it is to invest in export in order to succeed. He explained that this meant ensuring the right partners are in place to enable effectively targeted market research, marketing and PR.

The presentation also highlighted the tailored support provided by FFB to suit Quorn’s requirements in its various overseas markets. Trade support is offered in Scandinavia, Switzerland and Holland by FFB, while full market insight, and sales and marketing support is offered in Belgium and North America.

‘Exporting lifts a company’

The third presentation of the day was provided by James Walker, Managing Director of Walkers Shortbread, who spoke about how exporting can lift the standards of a company as it competes with leading brands from across the globe for shelf space.

The importance of maintaining top quality, highly-focussed product development and a unique and easily defensible brand was pinpointed as being crucial to a brand’s success in new markets, with aggressive marketing via exhibitions, point of sale material and merchandising also pivotal.