The current state of category management came under fire earlier this week at an industry conference, with calls for a radical rethink of the retailing concept.

Jonathan Smith, founder of Axis Management Consulting, lambasted the manner in which “a really sound concept has been turned into an overly-complex, jargon-laden number crunching exercise”.

Smith added: “Ninety per cent of commercial people in food businesses are now sceptical, disillusioned or plain hostile towards category management. […] We need to see a new form of category management which gets back to the sound basics: suppliers and retailers working together to develop total category profits by better understanding consumers.”

“This new form of category management needs to be drastically simplified, less obsessed with process, and more clearly focused on results. It needs to be faster, slicker, and cheaper than what is currently done. Focused analysis needs to replace massive data trawling exercises and there needs to be increased emphasis on qualitative information and working at retail store level.”