Six things we learned at Fairway Foodservice’s Meet the Member event

Fairway Foodservice chief executive Chris Binge

Six things Paul Hill learned at Fairway Foodservice’s Meet The Member event in Tamworth


Fairway is on track for a 6% increase in its buying power and 11.1% rise in collective revenue this year

Chief executive Chris Binge explained that the collective growth of members increased from £715m to £801.5m in 2018, with this set to continue in 2019. “Hard work and a focus on quality products and service get their reward for our members, who have experienced growth in a challenging environment,” he said. “Our wholesalers work very hard to meet the ever-increasing demands of caterers.”

Fairway has begun a digital transformation

Binge hopes this will shake up how foodservice companies interact online, with a new website including an intelligent on-site search for its own-brand range, as well as a newsletter that targets caterers.

Additional benefits for users include a site structure that enables caterers to search directly for a product, as well as by cuisine type to support operators seeking creativity with recipes. A newsletter titled ‘Fairway Insider’ will also be sent to caterers across the UK and will provide tips and advice to help them grow their business and increase efficiencies across their operations.

Fairway plans to increase its own-brand range

The buying group plans to increase its own-brand range to more than 650 products by the end of 2020. Purchasing director Steve Jeavons said: “Our own-brand products are very well known for their quality matching or being better than the leading brands, at a lower cost. The launch of Fairway Assured as a brand, accompanied by new packaging, has cemented our position as the leader in the field. We listen to our 20 members and the message has been very clear – add more products to the range.”

Members plan further growth and acquisitions

Following the acquisition of Kent-based Rochester Provisions last year, Q Catering Supplies managing director Roger Snelling hopes to continue expanding the business: “We’re spending this year sorting out this acquisition from a logistical and structural standpoint. Once we’ve sorted that, we’ll look for more areas of growth in the future.” King Brothers director Martin King is of a similar mindset: “We are looking to expand the sales force and we’re continually on the lookout for acquisitions to develop our company.”

The foodservice market still presents a number of challenges

King believes rising customer expectations of stock is still an ongoing issue alongside the threat of Amazon. “Another area that remains a problem is convincing customers to swap a butcher for a wholesaler, even if the meat is still coming from the same location,” he said.

The rise in free-from shows no sign of slowing

Gluten- and meat-free trends have become normalised, according to a number of members and suppliers in attendance. “With consumers becoming far more health-aware, we’ve seen these trends become normalised,” explained James Byatt, business development manager at Radnor Hills. “Wholesalers looking for sustainable options when selecting products is also on the rise.”

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Paul Hill
Paul Hill is the Editor of Better Wholesaling. Paul can be found on Twitter on @BW_PaulHill, or can be contacted via paul.hill@newtrade.co.uk and 020 7689 3376.

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