Nina Pullman discusses wholesale with coffee shop operator Andrew Carnell

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Which wholesalers do you use and why do you use them?

We use South Lincs Foodservice for bread, salad and cakes, and Booker for most alcohol, but I do get a bit of alcohol from Small Beer, too. For coffee, we work with a specialist roaster in Birmingham who flies out to buy directly from farmers.

South Lincs has one main competitor, but I tried it first and I have been quite happy with it since. Booker has a pretty wide selection of beers and I have found it to be reliable.

Do you get your orders by visiting the depot or having them delivered?

South Lincs comes to Lincoln every day from Boston and we have deliveries from them three times a week. Booker delivers once a week.

How can wholesalers improve online ordering?

Booker’s online service works pretty well. South Lincs does not have online, so it rings us up. Allegedly it has an online service in the pipeline, but I am not too bothered either way. Ringing me is quicker in some ways, but I would have thought it would save some money not to have a sales team making calls every day.

What in-depot activity is likely to catch your attention and get you to buy promotional items?

I do look for offers on cakes, partly because South Lincs does them every month. It is just discounts, though – I have not got enough space in the freezer for anything extra, so I just buy what is on offer.

What categories would you like to see wholesalers improve in?

You are pretty stuck for wholesalers that are interested in Lincolnshire – it does not seem to be on their map. There is money to be made here, but it is up to them.

Waitrose is better than wholesalers and the prices are not that bad, either, so it does quite well out of me – its website works well and it has a wholesale number so is completely legitimate. You can also book a one-hour delivery slot, which no other wholesalers offer, so I can put staff in just for an hour to take that delivery.

How would you rate the wholesale sector on responding to trends?

The sector always has new stuff coming through, especially new cakes, which we like. Booker is good with its range of beers, too.

What are the trends that are going to grow this year?

I think maybe gin is tailing off, so whisky will grow next. Having said that, whisky is a much more acquired taste than gin, so maybe it will not grow too much and gin will maintain its position. I think gluten-free is quite a fad and already at where it is going to be. Oat milk is popular, and I am not against serving it as it has a low carbon footprint, whereas soya milk is bad for the environment. 

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