As 2010 gets underway the four must-stock pub categories in the spotlight at our Sell More, Save More pubs are moving ahead.
The initial visits to the three chosen pubs from our category champions - Heineken UK looking after beer, ViVAS taking care of wine, spirits champion Maxxium and Walkers on crisps and snacks - were all made in the weeks before Christmas.
And some early recommendations for growing sales have already been put into place.
Pete Walters and Marie Richards at the Wheel Inn in Pennington, Hampshire - representing rural pubs - on the project, says: "Everyone's been to see us. Walkers said we needed to concentrate on stocking some of the biggest sellers, such as Monster Munch. The theory is that men never grow up, and they are selling so it must be true!"
Pete also praised Heineken UK for its contribution, particularly with lots of ideas about promotions.
"We're considering them now - a lot of its ideas were about promoting the pub, as well as the beer, and getting us noticed. Suggestions included a fixed noticeboard outside the building, so people can see more about what we offer from the outside, and to help us to advertise our events better.
"ViVAS gave us some great input about displaying wine, and left us some brilliant table menus to help us communicate the range better to customers."
After a challenging Christmas Pete and Marie are looking forward to getting stuck into 2010, once the bad weather blows over.
Cheers to wine
Wine sales are certainly motoring ahead at the Stanley Arms in Portslade, near Brighton in West Sussex, after some intensive work from ViVAS before Christmas.
Licensee Steve Bennett says wine is finally proving a hit at the pub - previously famous purely for its CAMRA award-winning ales - after two failed attempts to get the offer right in the past.
"I couldn't have wished for better service, information, advice, and general enthusiasm," declares Steve.
"We had about 30 customers turn up to the launch of the new range before Christmas, helped by Julie Fontaine. Obviously we are keeping an eye on the offer to keep it fresh, but in the first week we doubled our wine sales!!"
Look out for more specific category advice from ViVAS in next month's update.
Walkers gets to grips with crisps and snacks
Angie Sparling, Walkers national account manager for the licensed trade, visited both the Wheel Inn in Pennington, Hampshire and the Stanley Arms in Porstlade, West Sussex, for Sell More, Save More - with range and display two of her key priorities
The Wheel Inn
"On my arrival at the Wheel Inn I met Pete and Marie, who are obviously working hard to build their business. The pub is situated in the New Forest near to the town of Lymington, and villages of Pennington and Sway.
"They are continually trying different ideas to attract new customers whilst welcoming their existing local trade. This has not always been easy as they have faced a few challenges along the way, none more so than when their very successful live music night had to end due to noise restrictions. This however has not stopped the couple trying other themed nights such as a Halloween Party night, and quiz nights.
"About 75 per cent of their existing customer base is made up of regulars, with the remaining being passing trade. Of this, 85 per cent of the customers that visit currently are men aged between 40 and 70.
"They already have their snack displayed above the bar, ensuring good visibility, and stock a good range which includes Walkers Crisps and Max, reflecting the male dominated demographic. My initial recommendation would be to fine tune the range offered ensuring that the top three crisp flavours - Ready Salted , Cheese & Onion, and Salt & Vinegar - are stocked, along with Paprika, and Steak Max, and to introduce Roast Beef Monster Munch, which has proved a huge hit amongst male pub customers."
The Stanley Arms
"The Stanley Arms has transformed over recent years form a somewhat chequered past to a well loved community pub - it's already a success story.
"However licensee Steve Bennett is not one to 'rest on his laurels' and it is clear that he is very forward thinking, constantly exploring fresh ideas to help his business improve and grow. The pub's
deep community involvement is very apparent, including fundraising for local charities. Customers tend to be 75 per cent male of all ages, with very diverse tastes, and this is reflected in the wide range of snacks on offer - I counted 19 different products, not all easily visible.
"My initial recommendation would be to rationalise the range based on sales data provided by Steve and the Walkers van sales team eradicating duplications and tailoring to suit the pubs demographic.
"To improve visibility the best solution for this outlet is to site two 'clipsticks' above the bar, as space is at a premium."
Giving the snacks range a premium feel was a focus for Walkers national account manager for the licensed trade Rachel Hyman when she visited Woody's bar in Northwood Hills, North London - representing high-street venues in Sell More, Save More
"From the outside Woody's looked like an old man's drinking pub and not too welcoming, but inside it was smart and modern. Natalie is a creative young woman full of ideas about how to turn it around.
"There's a lot of entertainment to bring the customers in the evenings, but very limited daytime trade. Customers vary depending on entertainment but are probably more female, over 21s only (and more likely over 45s for karaoke!)
"Natalie is looking at a point of difference from a Wetherspoons up the road. She wants her crisps to have a premium price point and therefore to move away from standard flavour crisps into the premium market."
"We looked at options for display, as space is very limited on the bar - and decided that four clipsticks would make the display tidier take up less room.
"I arranged for a Walkers van to go round to help with display and for her to order Red Sky and Sensations in order to save time from going to the cash and carry, and to help her with point-of-sale material."
Keep following Sell More, Save More to find out how the snacks recommendations impact on sales