Diageo's plan when it went in to remerchandise the spirits department at Batleys' West Bromwich depot was to make it easier for retailers to shop.

"The main problem was that the layout of the spirits department was very old fashioned," says Natalie James, Diageo category development manager. "It was pretty basic and in desperate need of a facelift.

"We wanted to reflect customer shopping trends and make it easier for retailers to shop. They couldn't find what they wanted before, but now it is a straightforward, much more simple layout. Feedback has been good that it's much easier to shop and sales are up." Indeed, sales have improved each month since the revamp, and the 1% of stock that was delisted does not seem to have been missed.

One of the biggest changes is the space allocated to different pack sizes. On one side of the shelves, retailers now find single bottles and blister packs of six; on the opposite side are cases of the spirits. Retailers can now decide immediately whether they want to buy one, six or 12 bottles. Previously, the cases were out in a stockroom and staff had to be called to go and collect them, and many customers just didn't realise they were available. With improved visibility, retailers can now see clearly that products are cheaper when bought by the case.

Diageo worked on a layout that went from light spirits to dark. "We break these down into three categories: 'release' which includes vodka; 'reward' which includes whisky; and 'relax' which takes in rum and gin," explains James. "We also lay them out by price so we have value, standard and premium lines."

She's keen to emphasise that the exercise was very much a category initiative rather than being exclusively about Diageo products. "For instance, we knew how important own label lines were for the depot, so they were included throughout," she continues.

"For retailers, ease of shopping was our primary focus and a big part of that was communication. We put in lots of signposting to help retailers find what they want."

Displaying malt whiskies using a 'flavour map' has been a particular success previously the single malts were mixed in with the blends. Now the malts are laid out by flavour type. The range has been increased to include all the flavours and sales are up a massive 157%.

"This has been done by displaying them more prominently and by giving retailers more information to help them understand what whiskies there are," explains James.

For the depot's general manager, Paul Rabone, another sign that the initiative has been a success is the fact that he's not had a single complaint from customers. n