Q&A with David Wagstaff, V.P. North America, St. Pierre Bakery
Supply chain issues are front of mind for retailers – how have you helped them keep shelves stocked through the pandemic?
The supply chain is problematic for everyone in the industry – but we’re not afraid to do things differently in order to help retailers. As such, our fill rates are incredible. We have not dropped below 94 percent in more than three years, and we ended 2021 with an average fill rate of 98 percent, despite a volatile market and the industry-wide impact of a disrupted supply chain.
We are opening a new warehouse in Michigan with our partners, Lipari Foods, which will allow us to double our capacity and storage in the U.S. That is a key pillar of our growth plans. It’s a huge investment – more than $10mn dollars – but we believe the size of the opportunity justifies the investment because it allows us to maintain our fill rates at the level our customers have become accustomed to.
We also ship the product frozen and we have an extended shelf-life on a premium product. There are few bakery suppliers who can offer that reliability.
We are investing to protect our supply chain so we can help retailers protect theirs. For retailers, that’s unique and one of the key advantages of partnering with St. Pierre.
What are you doing to ‘future proof’ the supply chain in such a volatile market?
Navigating supply chain issues is a constant requirement. Whilst our investment will enable us to double our capacity and storage in the U.S. ready for the summer season, we’re working towards an in-country stock holding increase from 20 weeks to 34, but we also have to ensure that the team is in place to sustain the momentum.
The brand is part of St. Pierre Groupe and the business employs more than 80 people globally with 25 colleagues solely dedicated to building St. Pierre in the American market – including the 10 team members based in the United States. Our customers are benefitting from having an expert team available, on the ground, to meet their supply needs. Part of ‘future-proofing’ is in building relationships with our customers – we deliver on what we promise.
The other key element in all of this is ‘sticking to what we’re good at’. We work in partnership with Lipari Foods and our joint strategy is ‘right product, right place, right time’. Lipari are experts in logistics which means we can focus on delivering the right products – that answer shopper needs – and ensuring they are ready at the right time – navigating supply chain pressure points – whilst Lipari take care of ‘the right place’.
To offer context into how important this ‘future proofing is’, brioche, as a category, delivers a significant $470 million to the U.S. bakery sector – up from just $90 million in 2018. St. Pierre has delivered double-digit growth consistently for five years, is worth more than $100 million and is growing at the same rapid rate as the category we created.
In laying the foundations for growth now, we are underpinning the success of a swiftly growing sector.
The pandemic has transformed shopping habits. How can brands help retailers to re-engage shoppers?
The key for the deli and instore bakery is in providing an experience for shoppers – rather than just a functional shopping trip. For shoppers, it’s emotional more than practical and that’s why it carries such great opportunities for retailers to drive impulse purchase, away from the grocery aisle.
St. Pierre offers consistent, quality and authentic brioche placed in the grocery deli and ISB, offering new ways for consumers to experience great bakery. From our Eiffel Tower stands that communicate the authenticity of our French brioche to our inclusion in rustic bakery baskets – we help deliver an in-store experience that doesn’t require any on-site bakers – perfect for the more premium eating occasions. That’s how the perimeter will draw footfall back in a post-COVID environment.
We provide merchandising support at no extra cost to retailers. One of the most prominent ways we’re doing that is with our range of Eiffel Tower Racks that are set up in the In-Store Bakery (ISB) – not in the bread aisle. The brand imagery is incredible. It communicates quality and authenticity, gives stores additional selling space, and tends to command higher shopper spend. We’ve seen sales increase up to 58 percent in one trial when the racks were stocked.
We have an entire team dedicated to creating programs tailored to individual retailers’ needs. We can design special promotions, regional billboards, and innovative rack programs, for example, that help drive customers to the display. That is important because once we’ve helped drive the footfall, shoppers go on to spend more in the segment. Our displays provide a trip trigger into ISB and increase average basket spend. That’s why people like Kroger support us so well – we are delivering for our customers so they can deliver for their shoppers.
From the point of sale to the last bite, everything about the brand is about delivering an elevated experience, which is key to getting customers back in stores in the wake of the pandemic and why we are experiencing a loyalty rate 21 percent higher than average.
Do you have any tips for retailers to increase basket-spend?
By highlighting authenticity, cross-selling with the breakfast, brunch and snacking occasion products and clever merchandising, St. Pierre provides the tools for grocery stores to maximize sales and basket-spend.
This year, St. Pierre is investing heavily in expanding the display rack program. Alongside our signature Eiffel Tower stands, we are offering Eiffel Tower table-toppers to drive sales in stores where space is at a premium and enabling retailers to drive sales through key cross-merchandising initiatives.
For grilling season this year, we are launching branded ‘knee-knockers’. These new display solutions mean that we can take that in-store, branded experience to new sectors of the store. It makes perfect sense to place premium buns with premium meats and grilling ranges. Some stores aren’t set up to do this, so we’ve created a solution to help increase basket spend at a key time of year. If you place your premium offering next to your refrigerator units – not only are you saving the shopper a trip to the bread aisle, but you’re making it more likely that they’ll spend dollars with America’s favorite brioche, rather than opting for a basic bun or hot dog roll from the commercial bread aisle. It’s a win-win.
Insight is critical to retailers looking to maximize sales. Do you have any advice around how best to find and interpret insights to drive sales opportunities?
Each and every grocer or broker who partners with St Pierre has access to its unique sales platform, providing tools to maximize sales. From customer insights to branded merchandise and everything in between, it offers a ‘best practise’ toolkit to capitalize on growing shopper appetite and ensure buyers get the most out of the brand’s USPs.
Included on the brand hub are useful insights. Savvy retailers will monitor where growth is coming from and use that knowledge to drive impulse purchasing. The hub shares up-to-date Nielsen data to assist retailers – in knowing which sectors are driving growth, they can adapt merchandising accordingly – whether that’s morning goods and croissants or burger buns and hot dogs.
Such insights allow retailers to maximize impulse purchases, tailoring the shopper journey and taking stores from a functional visit to an experience. That’s the most effective way to increase basket spend and impulse purchase.
For more information on St. Pierre, visit stpierretrade.com.
To learn more about Wagstaff on our Experts page, click here.