The search for “the next big thing in food and drink” begins on 6 January with the launch of a social media, PR and regional advertising campaign. Entrants will be asked to deliver a “Dragon’s Den”-style business patch to a judging panel consisting of Ocado chairman Sir Stuart Rose and Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge.
The winner will be listed on Ocado’s website for six months and receive £10,000 to use to promote their product via Ocado’s marketing channels, including social media, PR and CRM.
Ocado has previously worked with small suppliers such as Yorkshire Provender, Higgidy and Muddy Boots. This campaign aims to help build relations between Ocado and up and coming suppliers, helping them take the next step towards commercialising their product and providing advice and guidance on how to get an audience with a major retailer.
It is also looking to do further work with suppliers, including running workshops for exhibitors at farmers markets.
Lawrence Hene, director of marketing and retail at Ocado, says: “It wasn’t all that long ago that we were a start-up so I’m keen to see some entrepreneurial flair and willingness to take a risk. The winning product will also have great customer appeal and offer them something they can’t find anywhere else.”
Britain’s Next Top Supplier is open to any small or medium-sized business with a food or drink product that isn’t stocked at Asda, Waitrose, Morrisons, Tesco or Sainsbury’s.
As well as running its own online grocery business, Ocado has a partnership with Waitrose to delivery groceries and has recently inked a 25-year deal with Morrisons to launch its online food site. Revenues in the first half were up 15.2 per cent but it made a pre-tax loss of £1m. Chief executive Tim Steiner expects it to turn its first full-year pre-tax profit next year, boosted by the Morrisons deal.