Adapt or fail

Adapt or fail

The market for innovation in consumer goods is vast and growing. Of the 20,000+ F&B brands trading in the UK, as many as 8% have equity fundraised, and more than 10% are growing at > 100% YoY (YF data).

These are fractions of the total figure, but ultimately still a lot of brands. These kinds of surface facts are interesting but they do not allow us to deeply understand market dynamics, or get to the real question: ‘Of the 20,000+ brands, who are the horses to back?’. Or better, ‘How can I become a horse to back?’.

That is why we invest a huge amount into growing our knowledge and gaining insights. We are always watching and listening to the industry, ensuring we know where to focus our attention and where we can add maximum value for our clients; brands and retailers alike.

There have been huge changes in the challenges occurring inside the four walls of F&B businesses recently – and when I say adapt or die, I am talking about YF, not brands. So, we have been adapting.

Here are just some of the challenges brands are facing, and our responses, to ensure we continue to help them in the best possible way.

Supply chain has become a huge growth drain on businesses 

  • Let’s call a spade a spade. Most teams are exhausted by supply chain issues dominating the conversation. More brands than we have ever seen before want to outsource this function to an experienced agency to free up their teams to focus on sales and marketing.

  • At the same time, almost every brand we work with has a big operational change project underway that they do not have the bandwidth to deliver against effectively.

We have increased the number of heads in our supply chain team.

  • We can now take on select new clients as outsourced supply chain managers – end to end – so brands do not have to worry about resourcing supply chain internally.

  • New team members means we can also do more change projects for brands, like changing factories, 3PLs and more.

My advice

Outsourcing supply chain management can help to save masses of time and stress but it’s not always the right option. I have set out the pros and cons to outsourcing supply chain vs in-house here, for you, but if you would benefit from a quick conversation contact us at [email protected]

Unstable sales teams are impacting retailer relationships

  • There is a massive shortage in National Account Managers and the impact of high staff turnover in this space has put a huge strain on leaders. Brands need support that is consistent and reliable, particularly when customer-facing.

  • At the same time, retailer relationships are more delicate than ever and many have asked for our help navigating tough conversations with confidence.

We have increased the number of heads in our commercial team.

  • We have created some more capacity to support as outsourced resource to National Account Managers and Key Account Managers for brands. We focus on the back end management rather than retailer facing work, so brands keep the buyer relationships themselves.

  • This capacity has also allowed us to offer more commercial advisory and coaching for brands wanting weekly or monthly governance.

My advice

So much of the day-to-day NAM role is repetitive weekly and monthly activities – managing promotions, checking and actioning sales data, reviewing and signing off retros. By saving time on these, brands can get their precious NAMs solely on the value-add tasks.

Direct hiring is no longer a viable option

  • Hiring directly has become tougher this year and turnover of staff remains high as a result.

  • Candidates are out there but they are being very quiet about the fact they are looking and only want to use recruiters to help them vet their future roles due to risk aversion. The demand for recruiters and their industry relationships is bigger than ever.

We have scaled our recruitment team

  • We now have dedicated specialists for all levels and departments from Directors to Graduates, including part time and contractor workers.

My advice

Now is actually a really good time to be recruiting – for the first time this year, there are really strong candidates coming to market. When it comes to timing, plan for the worst and hope for the best – hire before the new year to get the best people. We have created a must-read fact sheet to help brands when they begin to think about recruiting.

Motivation is coming from more meaningful relationships 

  • For the period after COVID, Zoom was the best way to meet people.

  • But now, people want to build more meaningful relationships again. They want to have a conversation in-person and spend time in each others company.

We are welcoming more brands to coffee mornings and networking lunches

  • Adapting to this need, we have been ramping up our Community events to be in person rather than Zoom based – think coffees, pizza and walks.

  • We are also hosting more private training programmes face to face this year than we ever have.

My advice

Never forget the importance of relationships – not only does it help teams learn and gain perspective but it also makes them feel motivated again at a time where it’s (for an unknown reason) showing to be hard across our brands. It’s a good use of time.

It is harder than ever to get into the retailers’ minds 

  • Countless times brands have told us that they are struggling to gain information from the major retailers.

  • The market is changing a lot so it is hard to keep up with new news.

We have centered the Community around insights from retailers

  • We have curated a calendar of events specifically focused on key leaders in retail. Think high level conversations with Directors from Waitrose, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and more. 

My advice

If this sounds like the type of insights you need, join the Community.

Tough conversations are happening again 

  • Last month, I talked about ‘extend the runway’ being a very common phrase again. As a result, difficult decisions are being made across businesses, based on cashflow forecasts and fixed overheads.

  • Most brands do not have HR in-house and only bring on in-house FDs later in life, so are not necessarily getting the right level of advice early enough.

Our HR Director and Finance Director are expanding capacity to support brands

  • Bridget is our HR Director and Lucy is our Finance Director. They are both highly highly knowledgeable and have been supporting brands with ongoing or one-off support. If you need someone to talk to, they have been there and done in hundreds of times – just start with a quick call.

My advice

If financials do not come naturally to those in your business, bring in someone to give you good management reports – no-one regrets having early clarity on their financial position.

Is there anything else you would like YF to support on?

We always want to hear about the challenges you are facing to help us produce solutions that benefit all.

Please get in touch if you have any suggestions on how we can maximise our support.

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