As the first step Ahmed provided Mars national account manager Nick Johnn with sales data for his confectionery department and Ahmed says even he was surprised by the number of lines stocked and how slowly some of them were selling.
After analysing the data Johnn suggested delisting 20% of the 1,300 lines held and using the space to give the top-selling lines more prominence. The revamp took place in January and allocated separate sections for each of the big three manufacturers - Mars, Nestlé and Cadbury - and then each sub category was grouped together.
"With the boxed and the medicated, we've merchandised them as a category, but for the big three, retailers tell us they know who makes what and that's the way they want to see it. The priority is making it as easy as possible for retailers," says Ahmed.
In addition to improving sales and making it easier for retailers to shop, Ahmed says there is also an educational side to the work. "Retailers can see confectionery correctly merchandised and can take that concept back to their stores, and also apply the principle of taking out what is not selling and optimising sales from the space they have."
The work's success is shown by an increase in sales. Year-on-year confectionery sales are up 10% which, says Ahmed, is a fantastic result, and he now intends to use the same principles on other categories in the depot.
Mars Chocolate UK trade relations manager Bep Sandhu says retailers will improve their sales by going through the same process. She advises: "Look at your confectionery range - how much of each line do you sell in an average week or month? Identify your slower-selling lines and sell them through - maybe by placing them at your till. This will allow you to create increased space for your best-sellers.
"Monitor your sales. You should see an increase in sales and faster stock turnover - thus improving your cashflow. This should then be a process you use to review your confectionery turnover every few months."
LifeStyle Express, Cwmavon, Port Talbot
￼"We're in a residential area, but we're also on a main road so we get a mix of local and passing trade, but even the passing trade seems to be regular with some of them calling in two or three times a week on the way home.
"I buy everything from BA except for some fresh items that I get delivered, and I probably visit about three times a week on average. BA put up my LifeStyle fascia and re-laid the shop and the Mars rep re-laid the confectionery. The customers like pricemarked products so they are good as long as they provide enough margin."
LifeStyle Express, Port Talbot
￼"I was running three clothes stores, but I decided to convert one into a c-store so I asked BA for help and it advised a full refit.
"Confectionery is a vital part of my business. We're next to a school and confectionery is most of our business for the first two hours of the day; then we have the mothers after they have dropped off their children; and then another wave in the afternoon.
"We opened four months ago and takings on confectionery have increased every week."
LifeStyle Express, Llansamlet
￼"We're in a residential area with lots of regulars. Confectionery is probably my best-seller. We are near three schools and I have a six-metre fixture. Even in the school holidays the kids are always in buying sweets. I buy all of my confectionery from BA and once I got used to the new layout in the depot I found it much easier to shop than the old one. The Mars rep visits us regularly and is very helpful. She helps to arrange the layout and gives me advice."