Josie Crofts on how wholesalers support her coffee shop

Nina Pullman talks wholesale with coffee shop operator Josie Crofts

Which wholesalers do you use and why?

We were using Palmer & Harvey before it went under, so then we switched to Blakemore for drinks and confectionery. We use Brakes for fresh food and Peter Clarke, a small Sheffield-based wholesaler, for things such as plates and cups. My coffee comes from a local roaster called Pollards Wholesale.

Do you get your orders by visiting the cash & carry or by having them delivered?

Delivered. I do not visit any cash & carries. I get a Brakes delivery a couple of times a week, Blakemore maybe once a month, Pollards once a month and consumables once a year.

How can wholesalers improve the online ordering service?

Every wholesaler should have this option. It helps me hugely to be able to see everything and refine the order so easily. Blakemore and Brakes have good websites and it is simple to search for products.

Blakemore has an app that enables you to scan everything you have in store and it will add it to an order, so you do not even have to go online. Seeing that elsewhere would be useful.

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

I am not always immediately aware of deals on wholesalers’ websites, and can sometimes miss them completely. If they had a pop-up that said ‘check out everything that is on promotion’, I would go for it.

For example, Brakes had a well-priced promotion on vegan cakes. Despite being something I would not have thought to get, they proved to be very popular. If it was relevant to what I sold, I would go for a promotion.

In which categories would you like to see wholesalers improve?

If I could order and have it arrive the next day, that would be perfect. Lead times could be quicker, though, and we could be given clearer indications on when orders will arrive.

When we joined Blakemore, one of its rules was to leave all of its delivery cages with you and collect them next time, which I was not a fan of as we do not have a store room. Blakemore also gives you a £500 minimum spend, and sometimes I cannot meet that.

How would you rate the wholesale channel on trends?

Brakes might suggest menu ideas, and I have found they are not always particularly forward-thinking or eye-catching. Wholesalers covering more dietary requirements would be useful. They do cover vegan and halal, but it is limited. If there was a wholesaler that had a stronger vegan or gluten-free offering, I would use it over Brakes.

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

The massive trends among students are vegan and halal foods. If they are going to keep growing, I will need my wholesalers to reflect that. 

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