Gifts Today magazine

Private label on increase

Exhibitors at Spring Fair are ramping up efforts to champion their private label ranges, as a reflection of the significant growth in the own label proposition across the UK retail industry

ITE Group plc, the company that organises Spring Fair (3-7 February, NEC Birmingham), has reported a significant increase in the number of retail manufacturers and suppliers showcasing private label products and services.

The major industry trend is showing no signs of abating, as is clear from a recent study. Private label share has grown for the fourth consecutive year, partially due to consumers switching as prices rise, but also as premium ranges push quality credentials and expand further. In the past year alone, private label value share has grown 52 per cent in the UK.

Robert Sapwell, head of sales for Spring and Autumn Fair, says: 'Private label has seen an evolution into ‘private brand’ in the last few years, and our exhibitors are clearly seeing the business opportunity in that development.

'We are seeing innovative, consumer-focused ranges across all of our categories that offer a finely poised balance between price and quality, superbly effective in targeting cost-conscious consumers. Premium ranges have also had a role to play in elevating private label offerings, and the quality and provenance of some of the products we see on exhibitors’ stands are manufactured to a remarkably high standard.

'Spring Fair exhibitors can now easily indicate on their online and catalogue profile whether private label is part for their offering, making it simpler for retailers to identify their potential supplier. It’s a really exciting space for retail suppliers to be operating in and we are delighted that the buyers visiting Spring Fair will be able to source for that side of their operation too.'

With a greater ethical focus on retailers than ever before and growing cost pressures, there has been a significant move to consolidate suppliers. It was clear to one Spring Fair exhibitor, Gala Candles, that its business would need to respond, and they made a bold strategic move as a result.

Gala Candles has an annual turnover of €270m, with manufacturing sites in Germany, Hungary, Poland, the US and India. The business works with most of the UK’s major supermarkets, and approximately 50 of the largest retailer multis. A small portion of this business is under Gala’s JewelCandle brand, but private label products are the foundation of those relationships.

Julie Northeast, UK sales director at Gala Candles, said: 'At a global level, we absolutely recognised that our customers wanted to rationalise their supplier base, have a better overview of supply chains and control where and how products were manufactured.

“They are incredibly conscious in wanting to track the history and sourcing of their ranges, and understandably, this is much harder when you have a greater number of suppliers to assess and maintain relationships with. This has been a significant consideration behind diversification for our company.'

Gala has made a number of acquisitions to enter a broader segment of the home and gift market, and now offers its retailer customers a broader range of candle products, across more price points than ever before. The company has also entered the home fragrance market, selling diffusers, potpourri, reeds, essential fragrance oils and dried flower arrangements, to great success.

Julie adds: “Private label is an essential part of our business, and one we are excited to expand alongside. We have to constantly reinvent our ranges and be absolutely a driving force behind educating retailers about trends. It is the only way we maintain our position as one of the chosen few suppliers that our customers sustain a relationship with.

'Spring Fair is a key element in our plans to highlight to the big retail players and the wider market that we have a broad range and all of the supply chain credentials they require for absolute peace of mind.'

A further element in the expansion of private label is the broadening retail landscape. The growth of discounters and specialist retailers, and now the latest big wave of disruption courtesy of Amazon and Google as they continue to expand their category footprint at pace is having a substantial impact. The online giants are also creating a platform ripe for further private label expansion.

All of this industry activity is resulting in a need to tailor and personalise product ranges to individual retailers and ensure bespoke and on-trend products are the norm.

Bespoke design and new and innovative approaches to giftware makes Spring Fair exhibitor WIDDOP and Co. the leading supplier to the trade. From photo frames to figurines, clocks to stationery, their range caters for a wide and ever-expanding variety of retailers.

Over 90 per cent of the company’s ranges are exclusively designed in line with market trends, ensuring 7000+ products are unique, affordable and at the cutting edge of contemporary consumer tastes.

Stephen Illingworth, product development director, says: 'We work in partnership with our customers in the UK & Internationally to source and develop exclusive products or unique services that utilise our exclusive 250 suppliers, in house marketing and design team and our award winning distribution facilities in the UK & overseas.

'We really invest in delivering what retailers want from their private label ranges, before they even know it. We spend over £100,000 per year tooling for new product development and £150,000 per year express shipping exclusive samples. We produce £5m+ at retail per year of completely bespoke product.

'Private label is a unique proposition, but the service you offer must provide the foundation for your product range and a strong relationship with your customer – we’ve put a lot of focus on this in recent years, and will continue to do so.'

As a hub for some of the UK’s most innovative, inspiring and intriguing designers, manufacturers and craftspeople, Spring Fair will offer visitors the chance to source the ideal products to drive sales throughout 2019, including gifting periods such as Mothers’ Day, Easter, Fathers’ Day and, of course, Christmas. This year’s event is set to see more deals done and relationships forged than ever before, with thousands of exhibitors and 56,000 trade professionals expected through the doors.


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