Supermarket cull begins to hit BWS category

Beer, wines and spirits (BWS) has been among the hardest-hit categories as supermarkets culled their ranges this year, according to new research.

Data produced by IRI, a market research agency specialising in fmcg and retail, shows that the number of BWS lines was down 2% year-on-year in the six months to July 2015.

Despite headline-grabbing announcements such as Tesco’s recent decision to delist Carlsberg, a number of other categories have suffered more than alcoholic drinks. Chilled foods were down 5.6%, for instance, and OTC and healthcare down 3.6%.

Martin Wood, head of strategic insight – Retail, IRI UK, said: “So far we’re seeing little evidence of major range-rationalisation across all multiples, though some categories have been hit hard.

“Certain retailers are cutting back more than others, but all are taking a considered, commercial approach to optimizing assortments – looking category by category, and determining the effect of losing a line on value and volume sales.

“This is enabling them to get their product mix right, without damaging customer loyalty.”

But, Wood warned, there could be worse news ahead for the sector.

 “This is only the start, and we do expect deeper cuts to follow,” he said.

“Brands must look ahead and measure the likely impact of changes on their category. Even a small percentage change can equate to the de-listing of hundreds of SKUs: ambient food ranges have been reduced by a moderate 2.3%, but this equates to a loss of 120 lines.”

IRI’s research incorporated sales data from a range of major retailers, including Asda, Waitrose, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons.

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