While retailers don’t have to worry about EUTPD restrictions until May 2017, suppliers must soon cease manufacturing a number of products. As they do so, they are beginning an engagement programme with retailers, as we found when we caught up with JTI’s Jonathan Yajima.
by Kevin Scott
A new initiative has been launched by JTI as the company looks to work with retailers ahead of the new EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD2) legislation.
With the launch of ‘Your Guide Through Change’, retailers now have a go-to source of industry-leading advice that offers reassurance and clear, practical steps to ensure they continue to profit from the tobacco category.
The communications plan will see JTI provide online training modules, educational videos and easy-to-read information packs, all available 24/7 through JTI Advance (www.jtiadvance.co.uk). Retailers can also take advantage of JTI’s upskilled award-winning sales force, trained to deliver expert category management advice and support.
Speaking to SLR, Jonathan Yajima, Head of Customer Marketing, said the industry was now in stage one of a three stage process. The first stage is the end to manufacturing of 10 packs, flavoured tobacco products and RYO packets weighing less than 30g. The second stage comes in May 2017, when retailers will be banned from selling these products. The final stage comes in 2020, when menthol products are banned.
“Changes are on the horizon but it’s business as usual for now,” said Yajima. “As we get closer to the 2017 deadline, stock management becomes even more important. We don’t want retailers to have high stock levels when the restrictions come into place.”
He also reminded retailers that there are consequences to non-compliance, but for now it was about being prepared.
In addition to the EUTPD, the UK government has passed plain packaging legislation which means retailers will not be permitted to sell branded tobacco products from May 2017. JTI, along with other tobacco manufacturers, is currently challenging Plain Packaging in the courts and Yajima said the company hoped for an outcome shortly.
JTI’s salesforce is embarking on an education strategy with retailers, helping them prepare. Yajima said: “We have to change how we interact with retailers. Sales reps are becoming business influencers and there will be more collaborations with retailers. What we know is that retailers prefer face-to-face discussions with sales reps. Hopefully this new strategy will lead to a win for us and a win for retailers.”
Jeremy Blackburn, JTI Head of Communications, added: “With the launch of Your Guide Through Change we begin a programme of ongoing communications for retailers. Whilst every shopkeeper that sells tobacco will need to be prepared, for now it’s business as usual. Our advice for the time being is – use the principles of our ARTIST category management plan, with a particular focus on availability and range to manage the category successfully.”
Yajima concluded: “The most important thing is not to panic. It is business as usual for them even if our processes change. There is a year to go, so be prepared but don’t panic.”
For more information, retailers can visit JTI Advance to watch a video summarising the legislative changes. They can also speak to their local JTI representative or call the JTI Customer Careline on 0800 163 503 to arrange a visit.