NORTHFIELD, Ill. -- Kraft Foods here is creating a network of retailer and store-specific customer business teams to sell its $11 billion worth of products and service retailers throughout the country, according to a Kraft official.
The newly consolidated Philip Morris Cos. division, which consists of the former Kraft USA and General Foods USA operating divisions, is implementing the new sales program to increase volume growth for both the company and its customers, and not as a cost-cutting measure, Rick Lenny, senior vice president of sales and customer service at Kraft Foods, told SN.
Under the new system Kraft Foods will have 300 customer business teams that will service retailers on a geographic and market- specific basis, across all classes of trade. Each CBT will have three to five category managers and two to 25 sales reps, depending on the number of stores serviced. The CBTs will report to one of 21 regions.
"Customers had been complaining that there were too many people to talk to, and we are now making sure that there is a clear line of authority. Each region is going to have decentralized staff of cross-functional resources, and on that staff will be sales planning, logistics, category management from an information side and finance," Lenny told SN.
"We're now being able to send one person into a store focusing on Kraft Foods as opposed to having two people going into the store selling different brands. He will spend more time with the store manager, be able to better understand the individual store and deliver better results in-store through better merchandising and cross-merchandising," he said.
Implementation of the new system will begin in April and be completed by the end of the year, he added.
The CBTs, Lenny said, will tailor their services to each chain's specific buying practices.
"For example, Jewel buys cheese and meat separately, so there will be a category manager for cheese and another for meat. Another customer may say that he wants to buy all refrigerated products with one internal buyer and we would have one category manager aligned for that buyer," Lenny explained.
"If Jewel wants to have a promotion where they want to promote hot dogs, Kraft Singles and Kool-Aid, the Jewel team can put that together and Jewel understands that they get to deal with the head of the team that services Jewel," he said, adding, "We will be able to bundle our program together for improved effectiveness."
Kraft Foods' direct store delivered items, including Entenmann's and Jack's and Tombstone pizza, are excluded from the new system and will continue to be DSD.