Lyon’s Instant Coffee is ‘the new kid on the block’. It has credibility in abundance and if there’s one word that sums up what vending operators look for when they’re considering taking on a new brand, it’s ‘credibility’.
The team behind the brand, Jim Cain, Andy Grelak and Geoff Wakelin, can call upon 100 years of coffee experience between them.
‘Jim and I used to work for Lyons Tetley in the old days’, Geoff Wakelin, said. ‘I actually launched Lyons Instant, much to the chagrin of others in the company that only believed in roast and ground. So we knew the values associated with the brand inside out.’
Lyons is one of Britain’s best-known brand names, but because of the vagaries of business, the products that bear the name are owned by a plethora of companies. Lyons tea; Lyons roast and ground coffee; Lyon’s ice cream; Lyons biscuits, Lyons cakes; Lyons seafood… The list goes on and on.
‘There is a proliferation of Lyons brand owners’, Jim said, ‘and that can be a complication when you try to explain that you only own the instant coffee. It’s not long since I received a letter from a gentleman who wanted to comment about a new product and he signed off with the line, ‘I love your jam tea cakes’!’
It’s this consumers’ familiarity with the brand and their loyalty to it, which has played a part in the rapid growth in sales of Lyons Instant Coffee. From a standing start in ’13, sales now top £3m per annum. The bulk of those sales comes from the retail sector, but the company has identified two other sectors which it believes are prime prospects for expansion: exports and vending. The man tasked with building a business for the Lyons Instant Coffee in vending is Andy Grelak, (pictured).
‘None of us has had any direct experience of operating a vending business,’ Andy said, ‘but we ran a coffee consultancy for almost 25 years and our biggest client during that time was Selecta. We handled all their coffee purchases so we understand vending from the purchasing point of view. Having said that, with our coffee experience and our retail experience we thought, ‘if people see a vending machine and it’s got a Lyons decal on it, then why wouldn’t it work?’’
Lyons Instant Coffee: a credible brand with a credible team
So: it’s a credible brand and it has a credible team; but the story of ‘credibility’ doesn’t end there. Already on board in the campaign to win vending business is What Price Solutions, a company that earns its living by agreeing to represent products it feels will benefit vending operators – and giving a polite ‘no thank-you’ to those it fears won’t cut the mustard.
‘We really feel that the time is right to introduce a quality instant coffee brand that’s very competitively priced’, Alistair Price, of What Price, said. ‘We’ve sensed a feeling in the trade that the main suppliers in the instant sector are perhaps a little complacent, ‘living on their laurels’, if you like. So, we’re now getting the word around that there’s a new kid on the block that’s much more amenable to working with them, is less expensive but works just as well.’ What Price has already made a huge contribution by helping to persuade Automatic Retailing Northern, the biggest wholesaler in vending, to take on Lyons Instant Coffee.
‘Our strategy is simple’ Andy said. ‘We want to offer a great coffee brand at a reasonable price. In Lyons Instant Coffee, we believe we have a great product, made from top quality coffees including Colombian arabica. If operators sell our coffee in their vending machines, they’ll make more money at the same time as providing their customers with what they will perceive as a better product. We all have complete faith in our coffee, that’s why we’re working tirelessly to persuade vending operators to give it a go. After they do, we’re confident that they’ll conclude that there’s no turning back.’
And that’s a credible conclusion.
More on Lyons Instant Coffee on PV HERE