Premier Foods

Premier Foods
Premier Foods is one of the largest UK suppliers of branded ambient grocery products. In recent years, they have undergone significant supplier rationalisation, business refinancing and organisational simplification. Their focus has transitioned to one of requiring organic growth through innovation. To support this they identified the need to foster the right strategic relationships based upon trust, commitment and mutual benefits. 

Premier Foods' Race for Growth conference

Jeff Arlott, Head of Category at Premier Foods, describes the impact of their ‘Race for Growth’ conference on supplier relationships.
Jeff Arlott: The Race for Growth conference was a perfect opportunity to re-invigorate our SRM programme with around 180 of our strategic and preferred suppliers from a total of over 1,350 current vendors.
JA: We wanted suppliers to leave the conference feeling engaged, excited and positive towards both the future direction of our company and the role they could play in driving our mutual future success. We set ourselves the following criteria:
  • Create a conference that demonstrated clearly our differentiated approach to strategic supplier management.
  • Create an environment of openness, trust and transparency.
  • Appeal to all invited suppliers – make it relevant and engaging regardless of supplier category / type.
  • Ensure suppliers clearly understand their role – i.e. it is a call to action.
  • Clearly demonstrate a Premier wide business alignment, geared towards generating value through our suppliers.
Although the conference was hosted and facilitated by procurement, the majority of presentations were provided by senior non-procurement stakeholders. This demonstrated full stakeholder engagement and executive sponsorship. The day was structured as follows:

What we said and what we did

We recapped previous conference messages and progress to date demonstrating the continuation of a ‘journey’.

We listened

We shared the high level findings from our voice of the supplier study run by State of Flux to engender trust and openness; demonstrate the value we place on supplier feedback; and be honest about our own room for improvement.


We heard

We demonstrated that we act upon supplier feedback, which includes:
  • Greater transparency of our plans – businesswide input from CEO, Commercial Teams.
  • Placing trust in suppliers – sharing sensitive data – and future brand plans.
  • Launching a new innovation process – addressing growth opportunity areas.
  • Clearly articulating three drivers of supplier success.
If you run a successful conference you will generate significant amounts of goodwill from suppliers and help build greater levels of trust which you can harness going forward.

Call to action

We explained our commitments, and what we ask of suppliers.

Something different

We held a street market style lunch provided by a small selection of suppliers in conjunction with our own Premier chefs. The objective was to showcase creativity, innovation and fantastic team work, as well as delivering a memorable and interesting experience which would allow networking with key Premier / supplier contacts.

Awards dinner

A dinner was hosted by our executive leadership team for an elite group of shortlisted suppliers at the British Racing Drivers Club (BRDC) at Silverstone. The BRDC was specifically selected as an iconic venue for an awards dinner. Suppliers were recognised for their support in generating value in a variety of areas. The night was a celebration of success, and a further opportunity for suppliers to network with senior stakeholders from across the business.
For anyone planning a supplier event, Jeff Arlott shares Premier Foods’ top ten tips:
  1. Start planning well ahead of the conference and be clear about the aims, objectives and the key themes for the conference.
  2. Consider the audience when building the content to ensure all suppliers will feel engaged. Use a voice of the supplier study and share the results.
  3. Consider your location – try and make it inspirational.
  4. Ensure the event encompasses the wider organisation and is not just procurement presenting.
  5. Ensure you gain executive sponsorship and have access to an appropriate budget.
  6. Engage early with your key internal stakeholders / presenters.
  7. Develop a common look / feel to presentations and ensure all presenters are scripted and rehearsed (preferably at the location) prior to the event.
  8. Use multiple forms of media for presentations – make the presentations interesting, clear and concise; consider use of video clips etc.
  9. Be prepared to share appropriate material to demonstrate trust, openness and transparency.
  10. Ensure your conference concludes with a call to action and suppliers are clear as to what their role or next steps will be going forward.
Supplier feedback on the event was very positive. Following are just a few quotes.
The format was perfect, each presentation held your attention and the content was even more open than ever before. In my view, to get the best out of your suppliers you need to engage them more, be more open and employ early involvement in new product development – all this came across during the conference. As always at such events, people talk to each other  subsequently every vibe I heard was positive and complimentary. In summary, the best supplier event I have ever attended. Packaging supplier
The day was very informative and a very different experience to any customer supplier conference I have previously attended. The evening awards dinner topped the day when we received recognition, which had a much bigger impact than perhaps you would realise. If your new product launches create the same point of difference versus your competitors, Premier will smash the £1 billion turnover target in record time. Corporate services supplier
It was really interesting to see how far Premier has come in the past 14 months and how the brands will be developed over the coming months. We go to a number of supplier conferences each year and yours was without doubt the most informative – it shows that our efforts to improve service and drive out cost are paying dividends. Operational indirect supplier