New Beginnings

There are all sorts of reasons to be cheerful this month; drops in COVID rates, shops and pubs re-opening and breathing life back into the moribund high streets, the change in the seasons and good economic news.

It’s also the month that the Life For Like sales since COVID have annualised which is causing some of the rates of sale to calm down as shoppers slip back into ‘normal’ buying patterns. With foodservice starting to reopen, we are getting the first insights into how the pieces will settle.

But should we look to the 4, 12 or 52-week numbers for guidance? Or do we just accept this year the numbers will be all over the place? One thing that does seems certain for the foreseeable future, is the current retail fixation on range reduction and price matching. Which retailer will be the first to change tack on this?

HRA Global’s New Beginnings

When I started HRA way back in 2011, a key part of the plan was to hire people on one condition – that they were smarter than me. So far, I’ve done exactly that, and it’s worked a treat.

So much so, in fact, that I’m delighted to announce that Roseanna Evans has been promoted to Head of Client Projects.

Most of you know Roseanna, she has been with us for five years and she has been fantastic – she’s diligent, straight talking, livens up any conversation and most importantly, I trust her judgement implicitly. That doesn’t mean that behind the scenes we don’t debate the pros and cons of a given approach, but it does mean that when she calls a decision, she calls it well.  In her new role, Roseanna will pick up the day-to-day management of all of our projects from an operational and resourcing perspective. We have been trialling this new way of working and it’s already led to increased quality of outputs and some really glowing praise from clients, so we know we are doing the right thing.

So, from my view it’s a great move for the business and Roseanna is excited for the challenge too. We sat down with the woman herself to hear how she feels about the new job role and how her time at HRA Global has prepped her for this new adventure in this Q&A With Roseanna.

The new appointment doesn’t mean that I won’t be working on the projects but it does free me up a little to read more widely, get closer to the global trends in FMCG and allow me to get my CPD for the Market Research Society and Chartered Institute of Marketing back on track.

I’m anticipating the conferences, trade shows and gatherings to all slowly restart in the second half of the year. I get a real kick out of listening, meeting, sampling all the amazing people and products in health, beauty, food and drink and this gives me more time to craft talks and write papers, participate in panels and chair conferences… and actually meet people face to face!

Some New Beginnings Are Bitter-sweet…

Last week we said a temporary goodbye to Kim Shaddick who heads off on maternity. Kim has been an absolute stalwart for HRA in the seven years she has been with us. On the one hand, we will miss her in the team but of course we are ecstatic for her and husband Howard to be moving into this new phase of life. Back in the office now, we are excitedly awaiting ‘news’ and all those cute baby photos.

I say we’re back in the office, but in truth we’re adopting a hybrid style of working as a team

All of us across the globe are making up our working practices on the fly in various ways. It seemed totally natural to us to give the team as much control over where they work as when they work. We are running a set of core hours and days but outside of this, it’s down to individuals to work when suits them. Whilst this throws up the challenge of asynchronous working, after lockdown we feel we’re pretty good at it and working remotely has been in our DNA since the start of HRA.

Meanwhile, Outside Of HRA Global HQ…

We’re not the only organisation with big news as of late; the big boys in protein snack bars, Grenade were recently acquired by Mondelez. I was asked to share my thoughts on the sale in Andy Cole’s article which you can read the highlights of in our article Grenade: From Carb Killa, To Mondelez Winner. What Went Right? Oatly’s Peterborough site announcement is another huge movement in plant-based, for which I had some thoughts on in Henry Sandercock’s article. You can read the headlines in our article Oatly: The Plant-Based Drink Soon To Be Ingrained On UK Soil.

Weather wise, though temperamental, it has been lovely and the perfect temperature for me to be getting back into the biking swing of things, sometimes even popping in a podcast for the journey. A couple of recommendations I have are of course from our very own FMCG Insider; 2 stellar podcasts, with a great calibre of guests. Thank you to Dom, Fran and Ben for your time in insight into the beer and wine market and to Mark for your take on the Australian landscape of food and drink.

With that, I’ll leave you to enjoy the better weather and all those green shoots in the economy as in nature.

Until next month,


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