Tobacco manufacturers are remaining tight-lipped about how they will accomplish the gargantuan task of helping the UK’s small stores comply with the display ban in just over one year’s time.
Manny Patel of Manny’s in Long Ditton, Surrey, was still waiting for JTI to confirm his position. “JTI has told me that I’m due a new gantry as my current one is five years old, but I’m still in the dark about exactly when I’ll get it and if doors will be automatically be fitted to it,” he said.
However, while some small store retailers with low tobacco turnovers have been forced to terminate their gantry agreements and take on responsibility for making alterations themselves, other stores with more significant tobacco sales are reporting a sudden increase in support.
Many have had their gantries measured in preparation for the ban on April 6, 2015, with sliding doors set to be retrofitted in a large number of small outlets as early as this summer.
“Imperial Tobacco came in and measured my gantry in preparation for the ban last week, so I’m fairly confident that it will be funding the changes, but I’ve not had official confirmation of that yet,” said Devon Premier retailer Dan Cock, whose 1,000sq ft store sells about 60 outers a week.
“The sales representative also assured me that support was set to improve, and that it would be launching a new reward and display scheme, which I was pleased to hear.”
Imperial Tobacco has also been distributing information packs containing key information about the forthcoming display regulations. The four-page guide includes information on how retailers can remain compliant, and tips on how to explain the change to customers.
JTI has also launched a category management approach called ‘ARTIST’, designed to advise retailers on availability, range, training, innovation, sales and technology, in advance of the ban.
Not everyone will benefit
Manufacturer support has not been extended to all small stores. Some sites of less than 3,000sq ft with low tobacco turnovers have been forced to terminate their gantry agreements and take on responsibility for making alterations to their gantry themselves.
Retailers, including Norfolk’s Nigel Dowdney, have been given two options: terminate their agreements and have their gantries signed over, or have them removed.
The Association of Convenience Stores estimates the changes will cost about £1,840 a store.
”Imperial Tobacco came in to measure our gantry last week so I assume they will be retrofitting doors in advance of the ban, which is good news. ”
Jason Tamplin, Symonds Budgens, Wells, Somerset
“We’ve had our Imperial Tobacco gantry measured and have been told we will probably have the new self-closing sliding doors retrofitted by this summer. Shoppers are used to seeing the doors in supermarkets so I don’t envisage a drop in sales. ”
Nick Fraser, Fraser’s Budgens, Yarnton, Oxfordshire