Posts from December 2019

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10 years here at Refresh PR

Refresh PR is turning ten, and now seems the perfect time to look back over the past decade and see just how far we’ve come as an agency. We’ve had brilliant client wins for some amazing campaigns, we’ve hired a dedicated and professional team as well as taking up our current HQ in Manchester’s vibrant Northern Quarter.


PR is always changing as an industry, and we have grown from a start up in our MD’s flat to a full and busy team with a great portfolio of clients working on award-winning campaigns. But where did it all begin? Let us take you through our history…


2009 – The start of something great…
Everyone starts somewhere and for us, it all began on the 3rd December 2009. Our MD Laura brought her experience and knowledge from years in the PR and media business, and with it Refresh PR was born.


2010 – Hit the ground running
You know our trademark pink and our classic timeless logo? That’s been with us since the start! We like to make our mark and being bright and bold makes us stand out from the rest. In 2010 we launched our website and started working with new clients that included the e-commerce companies such as Getting Personal and Find Me A Gift, as well as the food and drink trade exhibition, The Restaurant Show.


2011 – Industry connections
With our new board of directors set up, we joined key industry bodies such as the CIPR, CIM and Recommended Agency Register. We had more clients come on board too, and helped Aimia Foods, Spectus Window Systems and Saint-Gobain Glass to achieve great coverage in national and trade titles.


2012 – Growth and strategy
After three years we were eyeing up expansion and looking to get bigger. We accessed the National Growth Accelerator programme in order to shape the business strategy. And staying true to our busy nature, our MD Laura attended Lancaster University’s LEAD programme to set us up for a bright future whilst still running the fast-paced agency.


2013 – A new HQ and industry accolades
Being part of the culture hotspot that is Manchester’s Northern Quarter is one of our favourite things, and we love our offices on Tariff Street where we have been since 2013. Surrounded by great restaurants, bars and independent businesses it’s a busy hive to be part of. In this year, we grew as a business too and developed our processes and systems, including personal development plans, mentors, job specs, appraisals and training budgets.


2014 – An influx of clients and more award nominations
Our client base continued to grow and we had another flurry of client wins including Under Age Sales Ltd (now Age Check Certification Scheme), Continental Underfloor Heating, beauty brand Arbonne and First Ark Group. We continued our success streak and picked up two more award nominations; Outstanding Small Agency at the CIPR PRide Awards and Best Use of Press & PR at the Construction Marketing Awards.


2015 – The winning streak continues
We launched one of our greatest successes, The Heating Installer Awards, and we began working with the Glass and Glazing Federation launching the Window with a View campaign that has continued to run every year since. We continued our stellar winning streak and were recognised for more awards.


2016 – A PR education and awards central

We launched the Refresh Academy to bring targeted and industry-leading training to all employees. This successful step introduced a shift in team culture through the launch of our core competencies - The Refresh DNA - and placing equal weighting on not just 'what' is done but 'how' things are done. Our team is one of our greatest strength and this continues to be one of our assets as a firm. We were recognised for thirteen awards, winning four across the Chartered Institute of Marketing and the Construction Marketing Awards 2016.


2017 – Exciting new launches and industry recognition

We started working with Carpet & Flooring, Equity Housing Group, SkinnyBrands and Continuing to grow bigger as an agency and with a diverse client portfolio, we were recognised for the eight awards and walked away with two key wins at the CIPR PRide Awards: Outstanding Small Agency and Best Corporate and Business Communications Campaign.


2018 – A new tech focus and graduate talent

We launched our Tech PR team after the appointment of our brilliant Account Director Lucy Moore. We started working with cake manufacturer BBF Ltd, built environment clients Eurocell plc and Sentinel as well as tech and e-commerce clients and TableNow app. We launched our first Refresh PR Graduate Programme, which we are continuing to run to find the freshest talent in the industry. We can’t go a year without adding more silverware to our trophy cabinet and we were recognised for nine more awards:


2019 – Bigger and better, and new team members join Refresh
Our client portfolio has continued to grow as well as our team with tech clients Digitonic, Manchester Digital, Ello Media and Paddle app as well as built environment clients Metro Rod, Uponor, Fein and Dakea. We’ve grown our team and have three new faces to join our creative Refresh family, working across technology, construction, food and drink and business.


What does the future hold for Refresh?

We don’t know what the next ten years will hold for us but first on our list are more award wins, more PR successes and continuing to build our client portfolio.


If you’re interested in exploring marketing and PR, call us on 0161 871 1188 to discuss.




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Has plant-based peaked? Are we stockpiling for Brexit? What were the big food & drink trends for 2019, and what does 2020 look like?

Last week, I headed to London for CIM and Kantar’s 2019 food and drinks insights event, which brought professionals in the industry together to discuss what’s happened this year in the sector, and what’s coming up in 2020.


As always, the event gave me enough information to write a short book. However, I wanted to share a few key takeaways from the event, grouped into three core themes.  


Going… green


You can’t get away from it, I know. But for good reason. And it looks like that although most working in the sector will know that efforts are being made across the board to become more environmentally friendly, the majority of consumers just aren’t seeing it.


Kantar’s figures showed that only 16% of consumers can name a retailer that’s ‘doing a lot’ to reduce plastic and only 10% can name a brand that’s doing this. A shame, considering that behind the scenes, work is absolutely being done to fight the plastics tide. So why aren’t consumers seeing this? Do they demand too much? Are businesses not shouting loud enough? Or, does the industry simply need better PR? Either way, it needs turning around quickly.


Following the green theme, plant-based eating was a big discussion point.  Growth of plant-based meals is up 23% since 2015 and meat free meals are up 4% in the same period. Maybe surprisingly, it’s not vegans or even vegetarians that are driving this growth, in fact, it’s a lot of people making small decisions, such as eating a few plant-based meals per week, which is leading to this rise in plant-based. Older people and families were noted as key drivers of this shift.


Going… for growth


For any hungry business, growth is always the key driver. But, in an increasingly competitive environment and uncertain political landscape, how can retailers continue to thrive? Kantar offered its advice based on its growth brand footprint.  

  • More presence – adding store space is one of the more obvious drivers of growth, however, is not an option for all retailers. Home Bargains and Co-op were two of the main retailers to jump on this trend in 2019, with the former announcing a jump to 1000 stores and the latter announcing it would open 100 new stores in 2019.
  • More channels – retailers are omni-channel and have been for some time. However, the past year has seen major retailers forging partnerships in order to find new avenues for growth. From Co-op working with Deliveroo to deliver groceries, to M&S partnering with Ocado, retailers are increasingly looking for sales through new channels.
  • New (customer) targets – Iceland’s 2018 palm oil advert was the retailer’s first foray into a new customer base and we’ve seen the same this year from Co-op, which is targeting the student market with the creation of stores within student halls and in new build flats.
  • New needs – reacting to trends and new consumer needs around health, ethics etc., is becoming increasingly important to retailers when it comes to growth. Whether that’s incorporating ‘bring your plastic bottle back’ features into stores, adding more unpacked grocery options, or developing more concept stores a la M&S.



Ok, so this grouping could be classed as cheating, but there were loads more insights that I couldn’t drop into one of the above themes that I thought were too good to miss out on. Here are the last few points of interest:

  • There has been no obvious link between a general drop in consumer confidence and grocery sales 
  • Brexit hasn’t seemed to have an impact on shoppers; however, it has on manufacturers and the supply chain. On that note, Kantar found zero evidence of stockpiling for Brexit – so don’t believe everything the media says!
  • Actual grocery growth numbers for 2019 have been low – however, this was attributed to the particularly high figures witnessed in 2018 as a result of the hot summer we had, meaning ice cream and beer sales were up 
  • For one of the first times in a decade, supermarkets are no longer reliant on discounts to provide value to shoppers, with the trend on the decline over the past three years
  • Loyalty is back on the agenda for supermarkets and one worth keeping an eye on. While we’re not sure what the early uptake of Tesco’s ‘Plus Card’ looks like, it shows a clear shift back towards loyalty

So, there you go. The outlook for the F&D market in under 800 words! If you’re a food manufacturer, supplier, retailer or anything in between, looking to take advantage of the opportunities 2020 holds, get in touch to hear about the recent work we’ve done for businesses in the sector. 


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