Colin V. Cuthbert: Caterpillar wars are not just supermarket wars

When Bruha exploded last month on a return to the Cuthbert shelves across the Aldi network, my youngest son announced that he wanted to mark his 16th birthday with a Colin caterpillar cake – “real”, he insisted, “no fake you used to get us from Asta”.

Since it was his second birthday locked up, I went to the nearby M&S Football Hall to comply with this request, which was a kind of high market throw in the days when I was a boy. But I began to think: Colin Copts has been around for years; Why did this recent repetition from Aldi provoke such fuss?

The usual response from intellectual property experts is – Sainsbury’s Wiggles, Bonnie and Clyde from Asta, Tesco’s Curly, Morrison by Morrison, and co – Curious Caterpillar Cake from Cuthbert – M & S’s closest version.

Maybe, but of course there are other factors as well. The #FreeCuthbert storm that erupted on social media was a huge success for Aldie’s marketing team, and he was one of the most talented in creating this kind of advertising: while stumbling on the caterpillars online in court, they were also taking a stab at Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign for Aldi’s new size loungewear.

Read more: Tesco profits fall despite infection sales

Since the financial crisis of 2008, hard discounts such as Aldi and Little have been gaining market share at the expense of their greater market rivals, which are likely to continue as the effects of the epidemic operate through the economy. Now, Govt security measures have restructured the operating model for supermarkets.

Profit margins among major food retailers are scaly-thin, usually somewhere around 1-3 percent. They make their money through big sales blocks.

The forced closure of pubs and restaurants diverted consumer spending on food outside the home, but this surge in sales did not translate into improved profits. Pre-tax profits at Morrisons fell by half last year as it absorbed $ 290 million in infectious costs. Tesco spent nearly $ 900 million with Covid last fiscal year, so its 7% turnover increase translates into a 20% profit fall. Sainsbury’s raised $ 485 million in coyote spending, cutting base profits by 39%.

Marks & Spencer, of course, has its largest department stores, which have been closed for the past 13 months. With the group sinking to its first loss in 94 years in the first six months of September, it may feel under particular pressure to protect its food business.

Read more: Aldi announces return of Cuthbert caterpillar in copyright line with M&S

The biggest additional cost as a direct result of Govt is the cost of staff that supermarkets have to deal with, and tens of thousands of new workers have been hired to increase online capability and provide protection to workers who need to self-isolate. At the height of the explosion, 52,000 of Tesco’s employees were out of work – nearly a sixth of its UK headquarters.

After that, the vaccine program brings the virus under control, with absenteeism declining and returning to normal. However, other costs associated with increased cleaning and the rise of e-commerce will continue.

The rise in the use of home delivery has changed the equation because this channel is more fringe sandwiches and less profitable than food prepared for passengers and office workers. Fees for online deliveries – usually between 3 and 5 – usually do not cover the costs of picking up and delivering. If this is a significant proportion of the sales mix in the coming months and years, supply tariffs should increase, or supermarkets should find another way to offset those costs.

As the economy continues to open, consumers will have a variety of options on where to spend their time and money. While it’s hard to say how much this past year’s sales incentive has fallen short of competition, some of the sensible costs for non-staple food items will inevitably go elsewhere.

Cuthbert is expected to return later this month, but will have to go further as the cake play unfolds, with court challenges pending. Similarly, we need to look at how supermarkets are doing with the arrival of their “essential” competitors.

Sophia Harrison

Part time worker

I'm Sophia Harrison working as a part-time staff at the Costco since the past year until I become as an author at the iron blade, hope I can use my experiences with the supermarkets here.

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