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Chocolates for breakfast from Molly Bakes

Retail Insider held its first Breakfast Event of 2016 with Anthony Fletcher, CEO of healthy snacks company Graze, who highlighted how data has been fundamental to the success of the business.

Senior executives from Marks & Spencer, John Lewis, Monsoon Acessorize and Amazon were among those who heard how the company was good at logistics right from the start but getting the snack aspect sufficiently attractive to consumers was much more of a challenge.

The answer was to use the feedback data it received on each box it sent out and to crunch the numbers in order to refine the product by constant iteration. “Technology and data changed the velocity of our success. With access data it is possible to innovate at low cost as the cost to fail is zero. We can be faster and more creative with the data,” says Fletcher.

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Anthony Fletcher, CEO of Graze

He told those gathered at The Delaunay in central London that Graze had attracted lots of geeks from City firms so technology was always the strong point whereas culture and branding was a “harder problem to crack”. But having spent a number of years at Innocent Drinks prior to joining Graze this was a strong point for Fletcher and his experience has helped the company to successfully develop as a recognised healthy snack brand.

It became very profitable in the UK and this prompted it to expend into the US where it hit the challenge of the US postal system, which does not have quite the same efficiency as the UK’s national system. The issue of parcels arriving late was solved by again turning to the data and tracking 30,000 items across the US to identify the bottlenecks and to then use premium carriers to deliver on these problematic routes.

Integral to the success of Graze is its vertically integrated model. “It’s a challenge online, if you’ve low margins, and the answer for us was to invest in very expensive, world class automation. We’ve the most accurate weighing machines in the world. We can upload product designs from our office in Richmond directly into the production process at the factory,” explains Fletcher.

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Despite being a relatively small business in the FMCG market, which Fletcher says is a “high cost game”, the Graze brand crept up the awareness table among healthy snack products, which led to approaches from major retailers and now the company’s snacks are sold on the shelves of Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Ocado, WH Smith and Boots.

The recent launch of a new website that enables single items to be sold  rather than the subscription service that has to date been the mainstay of the company will open up more opportunities for Graze and undoubtedly keep the number crunchers at the company very happy indeed.

Retail Insider would very much like to thank Anthony Fletcher and to the sponsors Qubit, Bond Dickinson, and PCMS Group. Without their much appreciated support this event would not have been possible.