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September saw the launch of an extended range of Asian products throughout Musgrave Wholesale Partners in Northern Ireland. Already the six MarketPlace and Holmes branches from the region, are reporting strong sales increases and significant numbers of new customer enquiries.

According to Neil Donnelly, Commercial Manager for NI; “Asian restaurants and takeaways were an under-developed foodservice customer segment within our Northern Ireland business.  Inspired by the success of our colleagues in RoI, we recognised that there was a significant opportunity to increase our penetration of this segment and grow our sales by obtaining a better understanding of the market and adapting our foodservice strategy accordingly.

From research conducted with existing and prospect customers, three requirements were identified to significantly grow market share; authentic product, value for money and real expertise. Neil elaborates: “As a result, a new range of 250 authentic Asian lines has been introduced to each branch and with over 100 of these products imported from the Far East; the NI business has been enabled to offer best-in-market wholesale prices. We also recognised the need for a new level of expertise within our business and conducted a comprehensive engagement programme with each of the branches, to equip members of staff to service this important customer segment.

The impact of the initial launch has definitely exceeded expectation, as each of the six branches consistently reported strong levels of footfall from the new customer segment, with many new trading relationships formed. The sales of Asian products have reflected this, as already after one month, sales to Asian restaurants and takeaways increased by 293 per cent.

Contributing to this strong performance has been a communications plan that has spoken to Asian customers in their own language – literally – with all direct mail print materials and advertising translated to Chinese to maximise cut through.

Within each branch, dedicated sections have been created in prominent locations to accommodate the full range of products in one convenient area for customers and are distinguished by bulk displays for key lines, Asian theatre and point of sale.

Michael Stafford, MarketPlace Director, concludes: “this has been a real collaborative journey for us with Trading, Operations and Marketing working closely to successfully launch our new range and set us on our way to becoming a serious player within the NI market.”

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