JTI has been working with cash and carry operators to advise retailers on how to maximise their tobacco profits and to make shopping in tobacco rooms as efficient as possible. The advice has been in the form of seminars for retail club members, and the next event will be held at the end of the month for members of BA Cash & Carry's retail club in South Wales.

Zahier Ahmed, director of BA's Cardiff depot, says he welcomed the idea to hold a seminar when it was suggested by JTI's business development manager Spencer Marshall. He says: "Tobacco is very important to our business. It accounts for almost half our sales and it is the biggest seller for many of our customers.

"I thought it would be good to give the retailers an opportunity to see what the wider market is doing from the supplier's point of view. Also I wanted to inform our retailers about plans for the dark market."

Marshall says the idea for the seminar came from BA's fellow Landmark Wholesale member, CJ Lang in Scotland. "They had arranged some seminars for their retailers and I could see how well they worked for them, so I decided to see if we could offer something similar."

The first seminar was run in June, in partnership with two other suppliers, for members of Harrow-based Premier Wholesale's am2pm retail club. Each supplier gave a presentation on its category and feedback after the event showed all the retailers who attended found it useful.

The BA seminar, arranged with JTI in conjunction with Britvic and Walkers, is planned to go ahead at the end of the month, at Cardiff City's stadium, and all 120 members of BA's retail club will be invited.

In addition to briefing the retailers about current legislation, the JTI presentation will look at recent changes in the tobacco trade, such as the rise in sales of value brands.

Earlier this year Ahmed asked JTI to do a re-lay of the tobacco room at Cardiff to reflect the growth in demand for value brands.

Marshall explains: "It moved from being laid out by supplier to a category layout. We gave more space to value brands, but premium brands were placed nearer to the counter because we wanted to raise awareness of the profits in them for retailers. There has been significant growth in value brands they have risen from a very low base to 20% of the market in around 18 months but it is important that retailers do not lose sight of the importance of premium brands."
Karsan Patel Price Down Stores, Penarth 

"We are in a residential area so there are a lot of local customers who are regulars. Tobacco is a very important part of the business but I know from what my customers are saying that smuggling is quite a big problem. I don't think the display ban will stop anyone smoking. If they want to smoke they'll smoke anyway and banning displays will not help anyone. It will hit my business though because if it's not displayed people won't ask for it." 

Steve Patel Glenwood Stores, Cardiff 

"Tobacco is very important to my business, not just because of tobacco sales but because customers buy other things at the same time. If I didn't have it, business would go down a lot. I think the plans for a display ban are a load of rubbish. They won't make any difference to smoking but they will make our job much harder. When we are looking down for the stock, or someone is asking for a price, it will be much easier for shoplifters. All it will do is help bootleggers. They already sell openly in the pubs. I think the idea of holding the seminar is good because we need to know what is being planned." 

Vinay Bir Village News, Rumney 
"We have a lot of local customers and you have a good idea what they are going to buy as soon as they walk in the shop. "I've just started coming to BA. I like it because it has good prices and a wide selection, and the staff are very helpful. "I think that having the seminars is a good idea because we need information about the proposals for the tobacco display ban, what it means for us and how to deal with it. Sales of rolling tobacco were growing strongly but they have fallen off of late. I know why, but I don't like to say."