“There is a good opportunity for Premier and other branded manufacturers to make sure they get enough investment in the multiples in growing formats,” Darby told FoodManufacture.co.uk.
Traditional grocery manufacturers had to acknowledge the fundamental structural shift there had been in the grocery market in the past few years and be prepared to change, he said.
It was not just the top supermarkets’ convenience formats that offered potential, but also independents, where snacking lines could be developed, particularly in areas such as sweet treats, he said.
“In independent chains I absolutely believe there are opportunities and some of these categories need to be developed. Why isn’t there more convenience, snacking cake? I think we will see the industry become even more focused here.”
With internet shopping channels in strong growth as well as convenience, this area needed to be looked at too and Premier wanted to recruit staff with experience of tackling web retail, he said. “We need to make sure we have the right skills and abilities to drive online.”
Growth of hard discounters
Although analysts had highlighted the growth of hard discounters Aldi and Lidl during the recession, Darby said their business was not skewed towards Premier’s powerful branded portfolio.
However, he said other discounters such as Iceland, B&M Retail and Poundland, which had also enjoyed significant success during the period, held more promise for Premier.
“We are no different to the rest of the industry. We have secondary brands selling faster in some of these channels that we’re targeting that resonate very well with that demographic.”
With Premier under pressure to deliver branded sales growth and reporting a 4.1% fall in branded sales in third quarter results on October 24, developing these core channels could prove crucial.