The Sainsbury's buyer

21 September, 2007

Name: Trish Penn

Job: Buyer, premium bottled ales,

ciders & stouts

Company: Sainsbury's

Since: December 2006

Career: Buying for forecourt stores, managing Sainsbury's drinks festivals

Favourite beer: "I couldn't possibly say -

I love them all."

Is it still a man's world for beer and brewing?

Yes, but it doesn't bother me. Beer has long been a romantic, emotive, passionate subject for men, so I can understand the draw to the profession - my husband thinks I have one of the best jobs in the world.

What can brewers and suppliers do to appeal more to women?

I see beer appreciation in the same vein as wine or whisky. If there was a lot more opportunity to learn about beer through tastings, regionality etc in the on-trade, I think that would be a start.

It's difficult to carry that over in the retail environment as lots of our customers do not have the time while shopping. I know some of our off-licence managers give up their time in the evenings and use venues such as local schools to give talks and tastings.

I also think a lot more bottled beers should be sold in pubs - I was put off for a very long time based on being served warm, flat ales, so consciously avoided buying them in the supermarket.

I am suggesting ­bottled beers - and ales in particular - because they give more choice and variety, and pulling pints is always associated with being quite masculine and often reserved for big brands with quite a high abv.

Are you doing anything in store to appeal more to women?

I would love to do more to appeal to both sexes! I find that when we have converted shoppers they become the most enthusiastic and willing to try new lines. We do try to give information with our tasting notes, and food suggestion barkers.

What can retailers do to draw women to the category?

I feel that manufacturers and marketers should start the ball rolling .

After all, how many ads for beer do you see where women are not given a minor role?




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Richard Hemming MW: beware inverse snobbery

Few things can bring communal pleasure so intimately as wine. Apart from a hot tub, perhaps. Sport can trigger mass jubilation, film gives us shared empathy, but wine has a nigh-unique ability to bestow conviviality among us through a shared bottle – which makes it especially galling that we spend so much time divided over it.

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