Think Global, Act Local – IFCR talks to Nestlé Head of Sales Moira FitzGerald

Think Global, Act Local – IFCR talks to Nestlé Head of Sales Moira FitzGerald
Nestlé Head of Sales Moira FitzGerald

Why Nestlé Ireland is driving its dual sales and sustainability message to forecourt and convenience store retailers

IFCR talks to Moira FitzGerald, the recently appointed Head of Sales for Nestlé Ireland.

Nestlé is the world’s largest food and drinks company. As the proud parent to over thousands of FMCG brands across the globe – its position in the Irish market is indisputable. With the nation’s favourite brands – from KitKat to Bakers, Nescafe to SMA – across seven product categories, and a factory in Limerick where it employs just under 800 people – it’s an impressive company to be a part of.

It’s no surprise then that Moira FitzGerald, with an impressive back story in FMCG and marketing, was delighted to join Nestlé Ireland as Head of Sales in January 2021.

With almost 20 years’ experience within the food and drinks industry, Moira has a proven track record of driving business performance cross category. Moira joined Nestlé Ireland from her previous role as Sales Director with Mars Ireland, where she led the commercial strategy across chocolate, gum, pet care and food categories. Prior to that she held positions such as Marketing Director at Mars, and Wrigley Business Director.

Strong market share

“I was delighted to join Nestlé, the world’s largest food company with such an extensive suite of brands, after 19 years at Mars. Nestlé has a strong market share across many different categories including beverages, confectionery, nutrition and pet food and the forecourt and convenience sector is very important to the company”.

“One of our key priorities is to continue to support the forecourts and convenience stores in Ireland as we come out of lockdown and see recovery in these channels” explained Moira.

“Globally there are over two thousand brands in our portfolio. Over 35 of those brands are in the billion-dollar region – and Ireland contributes to that global brand success.”

Head of Sales

Moira speaks with enthusiasm on her new role. “Nestlé Ireland has a fantastic team of sales’ people working directly with customers to drive category growth. Part of my role is to build a long-term sales strategy – which I’m really excited about” said Moira, who clearly thrives in the sales and marketing driven environment.

Extensive experience

Moira combines her extensive experience in FMCG sales and marketing with a Masters of Business Studies from Dublin Institute of Technology and is a graduate of Waterford Institute of Technology with a Bachelors in Business Studies, specialising in marketing.

While she develops and oversees the over-arching sales and marketing strategy, she has specific sales teams who manage each of the categories for Nestlé Ireland.

“Ireland and the UK as a unit is a very important market for Nestlé. We develop the strategy together – then my team implement the strategies in the market with our customers that in Ireland” said Moira.

Sustainability is key

Sustainability is an increasingly important theme for food manufacturers, how is Nestlé managing this issue across its portfolio?

“Sustainability is key and massively important to our overall global business,” said Moira. “We are a good food, good life company – we respect the planet and want to protect resources for future generations. As a multi-national with a growing emphasis on sustainability, we are reducing our impact on the environment. Sustainability is important to each and every brand – and to the company as a whole.

“In 2013 Nestlé made a commitment to make its packaging 100% recyclable or reusable by 2025, to reduce plastic by one third, and to advance the circular economy.

“For example, KitKat – a world renowned brand and a big favourite in Ireland – has committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2025 by reducing emissions generated through the sourcing of its ingredients, the manufacturing of the product and its distribution by more than 50% as part of the plan.  Smarties packaging is 100% recyclable. These are big ambitions, but we are totally committed to this and a lot more by embracing the Paris Agreement to limit climate change to 1.5 degrees centigrade.

“Nestlé is one of the companies to publicly release its plans to do this by 2030. This is great work and hugely ambitious.

Corporate social responsibility

Corporate social responsibility is also increasingly important. Moira outlined how Nestlé fulfils its CSR function for communities in Ireland – and is particularly proud of the company’s activities.

“Nestlé has operated in Ireland for over a hundred years – and during that time we have placed significance on how we play a positive role within our local communities and at a national level. From 2019 to 2021 Pieta was voted by our staff as its nominated charity. Over €100,000 was raised over a three year partnership to improve mental health services.

“Since 2010 Nestlé has contributed significantly to Jack & Jill, Irish Autism Action and Down Syndrome Ireland.  As well as Dublin and Cork Simon Community.

“We supply all the coffee – at this point over 3.5 million cups of Nescafe as well as KITKATs to the users of the Simon community. For many people in a homeless crisis, that cup of coffee and KITKAT is the first point of contact with Simon.  We are proud to support their work for over a decade now.

“For our pet care division, Purina, we have a close working relationship with the DSPCA – donating over 160 thousand meals for the cats and dogs in their care. Again, an important long-standing relationship for us as a business where we strive to be a positive force for good.”

Huge portfolio

With such a wide-ranging portfolio (2,000 brands) across the grocery sector, what would your aspiration be for your extensive brand portfolio in Ireland – and how will you achieve this?

“Our focus is on our core brands – driving forward innovation to rejuvenate brands to delight our consumers and create a new interest in our brands. New Product Development is equally important, in line with consumer trends. We will see more plant based, meat free alternatives and new categories. I’m very excited about this space – the huge trend towards meat free is currently quite dynamic and we see significant potential there.”

Key messages

Nestlé is crucial to the Irish grocery sector, so what are the key messages for IFCR readers?

“The company is a key player in the grocery sector and from the consumer perspective – people know and trust our brands. We will continue to invest in our brands and bring new innovation to the market across all our categories in the coming years.

“In addition, we want to continue to work with forecourt and convenience stores to provide the optimum range and layouts for our categories and help them deliver continued sales.”

Personal vision

From a personal perspective, while thrilled to be joining a tremendous company that really ‘walks the talk’, Moira emphasises that Nestlé respects and supports its people significantly and no more so than during the past year when the workplace has changed for everyone.

“Diversity and inclusion are important to me – and it’s encouraging to see these integral values brought to life and lived by everyone in the company in Ireland – it features in everything we do as a business and as a team.

“We were delighted and proud to be only the second ever Irish company to receive the Investors in Diversity Gold Award from the Irish Centre for Diversity.

From a personal perspective – Nestlé has a very bright future, I am thrilled to have joined the team and I hope to make a positive impact on the business and the people I work with in the coming years” said Moira.

As business grows so will the people – we surround ourselves with the right core values, and as a result, make a positive impact on the business.

“Sustainability and nutrition important part of the agenda for the future

Closing comments

“Data and insights are key for the future. As a business we are insight driven and we are constantly seeking to gain deeper understandings of what consumers are thinking, what’s influencing their purchase choices – all this provides us with a wealth of information about consumer trends now and into the future.  It is means we can and do provide those product solutions at a time and place for shoppers”

“There has been massive development in the range and sophistication of forecourts in Ireland – it’s a particular impressive and important channel – where Nestlé will continue to develop relationships and provide support.”