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UK-First As Supermarket Announces Devolved Buying Offices


15/09/2006 - Tesco today announced it would open 6 new regional buying offices to increase local sourcing and make it easier for small producers to sell goods through the UK’s leading supermarket.

The announcement marks the first time that any UK supermarket has opened nation-wide regional buying offices and will result in hundreds of new local lines being stocked.

The move, which is a huge boost for small suppliers across the UK, was announced by Richard Brasher, the Commercial Director for Tesco, at Tesco’s first regional roadshow.

He addressed an audience of around 100 local Cornish producers gathered in Padstow to show off their wares to Tesco’s senior buying teams with the hope of getting their regional lines stocked.

He said: “We know our customers want to be able to buy more regional products. We also know that smaller suppliers have sometimes found it hard to approach the supermarkets in the past. We want to solve both these issues.

“By opening regional buying officeswithdedicated teams on the ground, we willachieve this and stock more local lines for our customers.

“We will also do more to promote them to customers including regional counters, improved promotional material in stores and a website that will allow them to recommend their favourite regional products to us.”

The retailer has now begun the process of recruiting regional food experts from across England and Wales. The regional teams will have buying and marketing managers as well as technical and merchandising support and willbe based within the region they are looking after.

Richard Brasher said: “We are looking for passionate people who know and love their region and its specialities.”

The National Farmers Union welcomed the announcement. NFU Head of Food and Farming, Robin Tapper said: “We welcome the increased local sourcinginitiative by Tesco.Sourcing more local food helps to address the growing demand by consumers. It also supports local producers who wish to supply the larger retailers.”

The event at Padstow in Cornwall has been likened to the ‘Antiques Roadshow’ TV show. Over 200 local producers were invited to the ‘show and tell’event, but the retailer extended the invitation to anyone from the local area who felt they might just have the next best-selling product.

Richard Brasher added: “We want these regional roadshows to be open to as many people as possible, even if they don’t have the means to produce enough to supply a retailer. If someone feels they’ve concocted the best local jam or baked the best lemon drizzle cake in the county, we can give them feedback and advice on how to develop their product or business.”

The stores in the local area will also reflect this move with improved signage given to local products, regional counters and information.

John Sheaves, Chief Executive of ‘Taste of The West’,the group responsible for the promotion of local food in the south west, praised the retailer: "This is fantastic news - I have been impressed with the commitment and enthusiasm shown by Tesco to local sourcing.

“We have been calling for an easier route to market for smaller producers and this announcement will aid this work. The fact that we will now be able to make direct contact with the UK’s no 1 retailer within the south west region is an important step forward in our quest to close the supply chain gap between producer and consumer.”

Tesco announced its intention to increase local sourcing at the launch of the Community Plan in May, promising to stock more local lines than any other retailer.

The supermarket also launched a new regional sourcing website which lets customers find out more about products and suppliers in their area. The site also allows customers to recommend products and gives suppliers a chance to contact the relevant buyer.


Notes to Editors

1. The buying offices will be divided into East, Midlands, North, South and South West in England and a separate office in Wales
2. The teams will consist of a buying manager, marketing manager and will have regional technical and merchandising support. Tesco is currently recruiting for the teams and aims to have them all in place by the beginning of next year.
3. Tesco already has regional buying and marketing operations in Northern Ireland and Scotland. Tesco currently stocks around 1,000 Scottish lines and 1,000 NI lines.
4. Tesco has already appointed a Welsh marketing manager but will be strengthening this commitment by also recruiting a buyer and technical and merchandising support to increase the number of Welsh lines stocked. Tesco currently stocks around 500 Welsh lines.
5. Tesco stocks 112 Cornish lines from local 20 suppliers.
6. The next Tesco regional roadshow will be in the Isle of Wight on November 9th and then in Wales early next year.


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