Welcome to The Grocery Trader’s July issue. As Britain gets set for the Olympics this month and consumers prepare to enjoy the cream of the world’s sporting talent, we bring you our Ethnic Food & Drink feature, to inspire you also to offer your shoppers a taste of the world’s finest flavours. And if that’s not enough, the kids will be out of school any second, but wise parents will be starting to think about their needs for next term, hence our Back to School feature.

Our exclusive interview in this issue is with Bryan Jenkinson, MD of Clipper UK. This year marks 40 years since the production of the first Clipper lighter. Since 1972 Clipper has built a strong brand identity in the UK market, becoming Britain’s number 1 selling refillable lighter. The bottom line for multiple retailers is that Clipper lighters offer a high margin return, but potential sales can be lost if lighters are only merchandised in their trays on the tobacco gantry. Following the tobacco display ban Clipper have introduced and have been promoting eye catching display stands and fun lighter designs, including London Sports and Football ‘12, to increase visibility and maximize lighter sales for the retailer, and emphasise that larger stores still have a tobacco section.

In our Ethnic Food & Drink feature, we ponder the fact that eating out has made Mexican, Thai and Caribbean popular tastes among Brits in retail in recent years, but what we get are Anglicised versions. World travel is another major influence on ethnic food purchases, with the more adventurous globetrotters coming back from trips abroad wanting to recreate the memories of their trips. Sauces from holiday destinations from Mexico to Malaysia are now available here, supplied by household name suppliers. The question is whether the consumer will buy ethnic food if it comes from a US or European multinational, or do they only want the real thing?

As we went to press the Governor of the Bank of England was warning that the UK economy will not return to its pre 2007 crash level until 2017, a full decade after Northern Rock savers queued round the block to take their money out. Times will go on being tough, then. But as our Back to School feature points out, whatever the economy is doing, parents with school age kids at home still have to get ready for the new term. And with parents living increasingly hectic lives this part of the annual domestic schedule is often left to the last minute, and multiple grocers with a strong Back to School offering do so well on sales.

Have a successful month.

Charles Smith, The Grocery Trader

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