SAINSBURYS HAS launched its ninth regional supplier development programme, helping food and drink producers in Wales and the south-west to sell into the multiple sector.

The six-month programme will include workshops and one-to-one visits and could lead to new supply contracts with the supermarket.

Barry Green, partner of Levercliff Associates, which handles the initiative, said the schemes had boosted delegates‘ sales by £35m since 1998.

“Dealing with multiples is fairly challenging for small suppliers – this holds your hand along the way,” he said.

“Consumers want to have local food alongside national food and this programme gives Sainsburys a point of difference when compared with its competitors.”

The supermarket would also soon be launching a regional cheese initiative in the south-west and Wales, with a view to rolling it out across the country, said Mr Green.

“There are some excellent cheese makers out there but many are quite small businesses.

“We are looking to put together a central organisation to represent them and arrange a suitable distribution system.”