5 Minutes with Jon Watson, National Account Director Gardening & DIY sector

Continuing Collingwood’s Q&A Sessions with leading FMCG professionals, we recently took some time out to meet with Jon Watson. Jon is a seasoned National Account Director in the home, DIY and garden sector.  We were keen to gain some tips and advice on how Jon has successfully managed some of the leading UK retail multiples over the years, helping organisations with multi £million turnover and achieving strong growth and profit.

To release the potential of a Key Account what tops tips would Jon have on…

Developing a strong marketing and promotional plan:

Jon: Gone are the days of chucking a large quantity of promotional ideas at a retailer in the hope that some of them will stick. The larger retailers now have very clear and defined promotional strategies with often the entire shop floor following the same promotional mechanic i.e. 25% off, 3 for 2 or Round Pound. It is therefore now imperative that your promotional proposals are clearly aligned with the retailers’ strategy. You can have the best “new” product at a keen price but if it can’t be sold at 25% off or 3 for 2 (if that’s the plan for that month) then it won’t get through.

Identifying new business and product development ideas:

Jon: If you are clever enough (or lucky enough) to spot a gap in a range or in the market in general then you’ve stumbled upon the Holy Grail! All retailers will look favourably on the “next big thing” that is going to add predominantly incremental pounds to the till.  However it is not always essential to “reinvent the wheel”, sometimes you just need to add a few spokes or make the tyres bigger. Adding value is equally as important as NPD. Consumers can grow tired of an existing product no matter how good it is or how many you currently sell. Making it bigger, more concentrated or available in new, more fashionable colours can entice existing consumers to buy more and bring new consumers to the category. This approach can be as powerful to the sales line as an NPD launch, and a lot cheaper!

Building relationships:

Jon: The key to building relationships is relatively simple;

  • Always adopt a “can do”, “will do” attitude.
  • Never promise something you can’t deliver
  • Always do what you said you were going to do when you said you were going to do it.

Good reputations as well as bad reputations pass from Buyer to Buyer as they move on or continue up the corporate ladder.

 It is essential to make sure you are right up to date with your customers’ current business strategy and ethos and do all you can to tailor and align any presentations you make to them. Find out where it is, commercially and ethically that the buyer needs to go and present a mutually beneficial way to get there. If you are able to continuously deliver proposals that match the buyers’ goals then you are more likely to be their “go to” supplier when an opportunity arises.

Create a long term aligned business plan (2 to 5 years) to illustrate how your company will grow your customers’ turnover and market share as part of a “collaborative” long term partnership.

Ultimately increasing the profit and turnover of the key account:

Jon: It is important to work closely with your customers at all touch points and explore ways in which cost savings can be made in all areas from marketing to logistics. For example if a product has historically been supplied to a customer in totes but the rest of your customers takes the product on pallets with a logistics saving of 10% then explore this further with the customer. Offer to share the saving or use the benefit to drive sales via stronger promotions. As with most of the issues we face with our customers it generally comes down to alignment, sometimes they may even benefit from aligning with you!

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We would be interested in hearing from more senior FMCG professionals with their own market insights; sharing tips for developing, growing and improving FMCG businesses that we can be shared with the FMCG community. If you would be interested in conducting a Q&A session then please call 01829 732374.


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