Friday, July 9, 2010

June/July 2010 FMCG news

  1. Loyalty broken by poor availability
  2. Shoppers in favour of alternative BOGOF model
  3. JLC rejects calls for further freeze in retail wage rates
  4. Tradeteam to distribute the Molson Coors portfolio in NI
  5. Eurostat survey ‘out of date’ – Retail Ireland
  6. Greencore & C&C profits update
  7. Manufacturers damaging own brands & John west's new campaign
  8. Pepsi outperform competition
  9. Lotto revenue break down
  10. The link betwenn oil & food prices
  11. Change for Good not so good for Premier Foods
  12. SuperValu invest on insight
  13. Almost 30% of SKUs now sold on deal
  14. Local stores need protection – survey
  15. Profits up at Tennent & Ruttle
  16. Tesco plans significant Irish expansion this year
  17. Global movement towards comfort eating
  18. The growth of private label sector
  19. Indian choc market
  20. Global Spar sales grow to €28.5 billion in 2009

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Danone dominates category....
  1. Greggs to open in Ireland, reakfast roll and coffee to cost €2.30
  2. Kraft Q1 revenues up 26%
  3. Trips to North wane
  4. C&C sells spirits division for €300m
  5. Irish producers must collaborate, not compete – Bord Bia
  6. Dunnes boosts alcohol sales, but most categories in decline
  7. Profits up 73% at First Ireland Spirits
  8. Costcutter renews CSI sponsorship
  9. Glanbia shareholders narrowly reject Co-op deal
  10. Consumers want more restrictions on ‘junk’ food ads
  11. Wholesale and supply sectors faces further pain
  12. Niches make the beverage world go round
  13. Alcohol/Soft drink/Water volumes fall
  14. Flahavan's posts strong profits for 08/09 period
  15. Out of stocks a major turn-off for newspaper buyers
  16. Aryzta sales breakdown
  17. 6% drop in FMCG market in Q4 2009
  18. Molson Coors is to set up an operation in Northern Ireland
  19. Dunnes moves more accounts to CD model

Monday, January 25, 2010

Interview tips for grads

In a recent CareerBuilder poll, more than 3,000 hiring managers and HR professionals were asked to identify the biggest mistakes new college graduates make during the application and interview process. Based on the percentage of respondents who gave each answer, these are the top 8 poor moves among new grads

1. Acting bored or cocky (69%)This sounds familiar. We had someone interviewing at Pongo recently who seemed pretty good, but two or three people used the word "cocky" to describe the person's attitude. (Our managers, like those at many companies, solicit opinions from everybody who comes in contact with a job candidate, not just those in the interview room.) A positive, respectful attitude is one way to set yourself apart. Confident = good. Cocky = bad.

2. Not dressing appropriately (65%)
Your interview attire, like your attitude, says a lot about whether you're serious about proving yourself, or just think you're entitled to the job because you're you. Your clothing should be clean, pressed, and modest.

3. Coming to the interview with no knowledge of the company (59%)
There's no excuse for not researching an organization that's considering hiring you. They have a web site; use it to learn what they do, who they are, what they specialize in. Google the executives' names (after all, they'll be Googling you; see #8, below).

4. Not turning off cell phones or electronic devices (57%)
Frankly, I'm surprised this isn’t No. 1. If you accidentally leave your phone on and it rings during the interview, don't get flustered and start babbling, "OMG, I can't believe I did that!" Offer a brief, sincere apology, turn off the phone (without checking who it is), then carry on professionally as if nothing happened.

5. Not asking good questions during the interview (50%)
If you don't ask anything, you must not be interested. That's what the hiring manager will assume. This is a place where you supposedly want to spend most of your waking hours for the next couple years or more. You must want to know something. Besides, there are certain questions you should always ask.

6. Asking what the pay is before the company considered them for the job (39%)
Mentioning salary in a first interview is like asking your crush what s/he plans to spend on you during your relationship – before you've even agreed on a second date. You have to flirt and make sure they're attracted to you before you ask about a financial commitment.

7. Spamming employers with the same resume and/or cover letter (23%)
This guy John really, really wants to work for Company A, so he applies for every job opening Company A posts, whether he's qualified or not. Annoyed by John's never-ending resume spam, Company A's recruiters unofficially blacklist him (although if asked, they'll deny it). Don't be like John. Tailor your resume for the one or two jobs at your target company that align with your skills.

8. Failure to remove unprofessional photos/content from social networking pages, Web pages, blogs, etc. (20%)
You will be Googled. Employers today use every means at their disposal to uncover red flags that might foretell a bad hire.

The transition from college to the real world is tough, and our mistakes are good teachers. Commiting one of these eight blunders doesn't mean you're doomed, nor does avoiding them guarantee you’ll get the job. But generally speaking, it's fair to say less leads to more job offers.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The apprentice – A closer look

The apprentice – A closer look E-mail

Those that are left in the house have shown adaptability and possess a number of key characteristics that are essential to be a success in the business world. In the early episodes those that were lacking certain traits were clearly identifiable with aggressive outbursts and poor planning a common problem. These were at their height when Donal blew his cool in the boardroom at Brendan and when Jennifer spent the seed money on candles rather than a paint sprayer.

When the weakest candidates were weeded from the group we got to know the remaining candidates much more intimately, all their skills were tested, replayed and judged on a weekly basis for all of us to see. So what could be learnt from each contestant? What are the essential characteristics needed to bring you through the first few tasks and what are those little extras needed to win it.

Determination; “Nothing in this world can take the place of determination.

Talent; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent.

Genius; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.

Education; the world is full of educated derelicts.

Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "press on" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race”
Calvin Coolidge (American 30th President of the United States, 1872-1933)

This steely resolve is best seen in Aoiffe, ruthless at times and seemingly without loyalty but always focused on the objective and determined to win. This first quality is essential for anyone wanting to succeed in a commercial environment or indeed any work force throughout the country. Aoiffe is an extremely determined person and this drove her on to win numerous tasks. She reveled in the pressure of working to deadlines and targets as her success could be quantified and compared to others, this is core competency for any sales person and standard in a commercial sales position.

Confidence; “The greatest barrier to success is the fear of failure.”
- Sven Goran Eriksson

In any business scenario confidence is paramount, it shows that you believe in yourself and your product, it in return gives confidence to your customer and encourages them to do business with you. The results of not having confidence were best seen when we look at our Breffny. His honesty and natural warmth were admirable, people liked him and found his general demeanour appealing however nobody would buy from him and his sales presentation were generally more comical than professional. The doubts he had in his own abilities led to customers believing that there were doubts on the product he was selling, a disaster for any business, a disaster for Breffny.

People Skills; “My advice to salesmen is this: pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, "Make me feel important." Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life”
Mary Kay Ash- Creating a cosmetics empire

People Skills are skills dealing with the interaction with other people, such as communication and interpersonal skills. The ability or "skill" to persuade, motivate and effectively deliver a message. This would include the understanding of group dynamics such as dependence, interdependence and independence as to where and when they are factors. This could include the relevance of both verbal and non-verbal communication within a specific social context. Hence, people skills can relate to either individual, small or large group interactions within a particular context.

What is clear is that the term “people skills” encapsulates a vast amount of very different interactions and examples of these are seen every week in the apprentice. Steve is the master of a one to one selling situation, he is friendly, concise, positive and earns the trust of the person he is selling to. He handles objections very well and tailors his sales pitch to understand the needs of the customer. The results are clear with him easily persuading customers to buy from him and comprehensively winning individual sales tasks. When thrown into a group setting however Steve’s ability as Project Manager (PM) were questioned with him being accused of being a bully and he himself admitting to lacking certain qualities. The PM needed to galvanise the team by listening and motivating, to delegate the right tasks to the right people and to always have the end goal in sight through effective communication. When the PM lacked in these areas we saw the ill effects such as the continuous fighting between Geraldine and Aoiffe or the catastrophic results of the Diageo task. Contrary to this when the PM possessed these qualities the results have been impressive with the platinum team creating an impressive advertisement campaign for Meteor to go and platinum again creating an excellent advert for the newly released samsung jet mobile phone.

These three characteristics are central to the success of any candidate in a commercial sales environment and will go along way in deciding the results of the apprentice but will these be enough to win it, what else will be needed? Integrity, creativity, attention to detail, charisma will all be the extra traits required to be chosen to be the next apprentice. Personally I felt the contestant that showed the best overall characteristics was Lucinda, fired last night the boardroom virgin was tipped to win and certainly seemed to be the most likely to possess all of the above characteristics. We will watch the remaining three episodes closely and perhaps more traits will come to light, maybe Bill will select the best candidate or perhaps he needs to talk to Contract People.

David Harrington, Contract People.

Jan 2010 FMCG industry news

Promotion fever seizes grocery categories
Profits double at Johnson & Johnson in 2008

Barry & Fitzwilliam wins Tia Maria rights

30% of Irish shoppers say they are backing Irish brands

Dunnes rises five places in global retail rankings

For More up to date market information you can follow us on Twitter!!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Industry News Oct 09

Tesco on track to hit €60 billion in annual sales

Unilever pays 1.1bn for US rival's body care brands

Kraft must make a formal offer to Cadbury by 5pm on 9 November

Cadbury could be warming to a deal with Kraft

46 brands now on board for Love Irish Food

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Interview Competency

How ‘competent’ are your organisations interviews?
By Mark Leonard, CIPD, Recruitment Manager at Contract People Limited


When recruiting an organisation will use various styles when it comes to interviewing regardless of their size and industry as most employers recognise the right recruitment practises are vital to ensure continuous organisational success. Many people are involved in the interview and selection process within organisations however, the question is are all these persons aware of and skilled in the principles of best practice?

Commonly regarded as best practise in interviewing today is the ‘competency – based’ (also sometimes known as ‘behavioural’ or ‘situational’) interviewing which is simply geared towards separating the suitable candidates from the unsuitable who do not have the appropriate skills or experience. The theory behind competency interviewing is that past work behaviour is a good predictor of future job performance in similar situations. Competency interviewing is said to be to be 55% predictive of future on-the-job behaviour, whilst traditional interviewing is often only 10% predictive based. (Katherine Hannon, Ph.D., “Behavioural interviewing strategies for job seekers”,
A CIPD 2008 survey of recruitment practices showed that interviews based on the contents of the curriculum vitae/application forms were found to be the most frequently used selection method (72%) followed then by competency based interviews (65%). Using competency techniques help provide information regarding predictive performance but also a well structured interview gives candidates a positive impression of the company and also projects positivity to those unsuccessful candidates with whom we still hope will be our future customers.
So what exactly are competency interviews? Competency questions focus on past events in a candidates working life and are designed to focus on critical incidents. As the interviewer you are hoping to hear of occasions when the candidate can demonstrate the ability or behaviour most relevant to the job for which they are applying. For example, ‘Tell me about a time when you had to show resilience to respond to decreasing sales?’ or ‘Tell me about a time when you had to make a difficult decision that directly affected your department?’.

The interviewer can then ask more probing questions to establish circumstances, reaction and what action each individual personally took. In posing these types of questions the interviewer is looking for evidence that candidates can act decisively with the assumption then made that when put in a similar situation this person will display the same behaviour in the future. It is essential that when using these types of questions that they are based on person specifications as agreed with line managers and ideally through discussions with the current holder of the job.

Dangers of unprepared, unstructured or untrained interviewers:

The limitations of an unprepared interview are that it will offer a poor prediction of that candidate’s ability to perform in the job as information is gathered in an unsystematic manner. This can result in poor judgements being made on candidates for a variety of reasons as referred to by Anderson and Shackleton in their book ‘Successful selection interviewing’, which identified consequences such as:

  • - The self-fulfilling effect: Interviewers ask questions designed to confirm initial impressions of candidates gained either before the interview or in its early stages.
  • - The stereotyping effect: Interviewers sometimes assume that the particular characteristics are typical of members of a particular group. In the case of sex, race, disability, marital status or ex-offenders, whereby decisions made on this basis are often illegal.
  • - The halo and horns effect: Interviewers sometimes rate candidates as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ across the board and then reach unbalanced decisions.
  • - The contrast effect: Interviewers can allow the experience of interviewing one candidate affect the way they interview others.
  • - The similar to me effect: Interviewers can sometimes give preference to candidates they perceive as having similar backgrounds, career history, personality etc to themselves.
  • - The personal liking effect: Interviewers may make decisions on the basis of whether they like or dislike the candidate.

Hiring the wrong person can cost businesses thousands in wasted productivity and time however despite this some organisations do not invest the time to rectify and address the key step in the selection process - the interview!

Case study:
A research study by Steve Newhall, Vice President for Europe at global talent management consultants DDI in April 2009 of more than 1,900 interviewers and 3,500 jobseekers across the world found that whilst interviews are almost always part of the recruitment process many organisations are not using them effectively with almost half of these interviewers (47%) spending less than 30 minutes making hiring decisions.
These interviewers are in danger of exposing their companies to legal challenge with almost half unable to correctly identify illegal questions around ethnicity, sexuality, parental issues or marital status.
Staying on the correct side of the law scored lowest on the interviewer’s lists of concerns, with just 5% of global interviewers ranking it as a significant concern.So what did interviewers worry about? Two thirds said they fretted about missing candidates weaknesses, whilst half weren’t sure they had enough information to make a sound hiring decision.
The perceptions of the jobseekers were that the top turn offs for them during interviews were techniques that felt more like interrogations (43%) and taking too long to provide feedback (42%). However jobseekers felt interviewers were doing a good job in interpersonal areas such as courteousness, professionalism and openness to answering questions. An unenthusiastic and poor interviewer was seen as a negative sign of what it might be like to work in that organisation.
The key learning points from this research showed:
  • - Interviewers are making precarious hiring decisions,
  • - Unprofessional interview behaviour will jeopardise an organisations reputation
  • - Training for interviewers will increase perceived company professionalism
  • - Effective interviews help the best candidates get the job.

How to structure your interview process?

Through structuring the interview interviewers can also help improve their ability to predict performance in the job, a structured interview will ensure that:

  • - Questions are planned carefully in advance relevant to the role
  • - All candidates are asked the same questions
  • - Answers are scored using a consistent rating system
  • - Questions are focused on the skills, attributes and behaviours needed in the job

This can make both the interviewer and interviewee feel at ill ease. So a less formal ‘semi structured’ approach should be used to follow up questions as the interview progresses.

Guidelines on how to structure interviews and question styles:

1. Structure your questions:

If questions don’t relate to each other then candidates will become confused and defensive so have a clear structure to help reach where you’re looking to go to. Adopt the same approach for all candidates to get a true assessment that can be compared with other candidates. If there are differences in questions some candidates may get asked more interesting and dynamic questions than others, therefore giving unfair advantage.

2. Learn to listen:

The key to your listening skills is self awareness, look at the verbal and non verbal signals you give off such as posture – are you facing the speaker squarely, maintaining eye contact, relaxed with an open posture?Show you’re listening by nodding or shaking your head, summarising what the candidate is saying and build on what has been said. Ask listening questions for example: ‘What happened next?’, ‘How did you feel about that?’ etc.

3. Open and closed questions:

Try not to use closed questions where possible, questions that provoke a yes or no response, give candidates the opportunity to expand on their answer, by using words such as - how, why, who, where and when?Avoid using counter productive questions that can detract or undermine the purpose of asking questions that suggest a ‘right’ answer as this can mislead or confuse the candidate also known as leading questions (A favourite of barristers) which prompt a desired answer such as ‘You’ve got to admit that…?’. Try to keep questions concise and to the point, avoid ambiguous questions that might lead to confusion and need further explanation in order for the candidate to fully understand.

4. Pressure questions:

These are not aimed to trip applicants up, rather to gauge their reaction to pressure and their ability to think on their feet, such as:

  • - What are your weaknesses?
  • - How would your colleagues and/or subordinates describe you?
  • - How long would it take you to make a realistic contribution to our business?
  • - What are the most important issues facing our industry at the moment?
  • - What are the worst aspects of your current job?

Common interviewer errors:

  • - Losing focus; stick to asking key job related questions? Are any of the questions unjustifiably intrusive?
  • - Ignoring the specification; avoid comparing the candidates against each other rather than the job specification, where no one meets the specification appointments shouldn’t be made.
  • - Snap judgements; judging the candidate far too quickly, often in the first few seconds.
  • - Organisational reliance; some interviewers may put too much reliance on where the candidate has been working and may attribute dynamism to person on the reputation of the organisation they work in when in fact they may have been swept along in a tide of organisational high performance rather than have created it themselves.
  • - Concentration lapses; concentration spans may follow patterns of sharp dips in the middle section, peaks of concentration occur in the first and last five minutes.
  • - Not checking up on facts; a surprising number of people lie on their CV’s about experience and qualifications which can have serious consequences if not picked up, not only performance related but may also expose the organisation to legal action from aggrieved parties if misconduct occurs.

So in summary, a structured, well-prepared interview by a trained member of your team helps ensure your organisation makes the best hiring decision possible in the most efficient manner whilst also protecting your business from potential legal issues. It is worth considering especially in these challenging economic times, the damage that can affect your business from the negativity associated with a poor and unprepared interview. Indeed, the larger your organisation, the larger the pool of people who may possibly endure a negative experience at the hands of an unskilled interviewer.


About Mark Leonard, Recruitment Manager, Contract People Limited:

Mark joined Contract People in 2008 as Recruitment Manager, previously he has worked in recruitment and HR roles within the hospitality, retail, recruitment and FMCG sectors. Mark holds a degree in HRM and Industrial Relations and has full membership of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).