Welcome to the April Grocery Trader. The days are getting warmer, the mornings lighter, the evenings longer – in short spring’s here again, a tonic to the nation and hopefully the nation’s retailers too.

After the last few months we could do with a good second quarter. When spring comes, consumers become more relaxed, and more inclined to grab the opportunity to have a Big Night In – cue our feature in this issue – and every other chance to relax with friends and family. That’s the same every year. But the big bonus this April is the ‘double bubble’ Easter weekend and the Royal Wedding, creating a second festive fortnight, hopefully with a good dollop of sunshine to add to the feel good factor and push the purchasing.

Also in this issue we’ve got interviews with two forward thinking companies making a world of difference in their respective sectors, Alexir Packaging and Western Union.

Money Transfer is a major traffic building opportunity for multiple grocers, and research shows many consumers make secondary purchases during their visit to stores offering these services. Western Union is one of the world’s leading money transfer companies, offering an easy and convenient way to send money to families and friends almost anywhere on earth. With around 445,000 Agent locations in more than 200 countries and territories around the globe, a great deal of the company’s success is based on the trading relationships it has established over many years.

Western Union takes pride in being close to its consumers and in its alliances with Agents. Through its agents, Western Union speaks its consumers’ languages, lives in their neighbourhoods and shares their cultures, playing a significant part in their lives. In the UK Western Union offers its services in cooperation with a growing network of retailers and is looking to grow its network still further. We talk to Rajiv Garodia, Regional Vice President for Western Europe.

Alexir Packaging is a leading innovator in the development and manufacture of biodegradable printed folded cartons, using a wide range of naturally compostable, natural fibre carton boards and a range of compostable barrier boards specifically developed for the food industry. Alexir also leads with its continuing advances in biodegradable and compostable coatings for food packaging, and has developed a range of ‘totally’ compostable packaging, including a series of printed cartons and trays with windows. As AP’s Chairman Robert Davison explains, Alexir Packaging is one of four companies, along with Alexir Design, Alexir Contract Packing and Alexir International, trading as the Alexir Partnership since January 2010. At the turn of the year Robert and colleagues turned disaster into triumph: they had to close their Crawley factory after a fire, but were in temporary offices within 12 hours and manufacturing again with a partner within 24 hours. Alexir exhibited recently at Pro2Pac, confirming they are fully up and running again and have overcome their difficulties, a remarkable achievement and all-round inspiration.

Happy reading, and have a successful month.

Charles Smith, The Grocery Trader

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