John Kinney is the managing director of Unitas
BWI: What has been your most significant achievement over the past 12 months?
JK: As part of our ongoing internal strategy to become a more member-centric organisation, we have developed a member satisfaction survey to capture, monitor and act upon the feedback of our membership as to how well the central office team supports their businesses.
The field work for the survey, which is carried out by an independent research and insight company, was completed at the beginning of August.
We had initial results at the end of August, which we are acting upon to improve our performance as a buying group where necessary. The survey will be carried out four times a year to ensure a culture of continual improvement.
Work is also in progress to develop a web-based HFSS tool to support our wholesale membership and their retailers as the new legislation goes live in October. We also continue to develop and evolve our Digital Excellence Academy (DEA) which is a key strand of the digital agenda.
By partnering with experienced operators within the wholesale sector, which offer expertise in their chosen areas, we are able to support our members with market-leading insight and valuable tools to drive their future digital strategy.
Through the DEA, Unitas has launched a variety of educational webinars, podcasts and short films to advise and support members with a number of digital initiatives
How have you expanded and attracted new members over the past year?
Our membership continues to grow with the acquisition of eight new members during the past 12 months including Y International, Albion Fine Foods, Drink Warehouse, CPD Direct and All Drinks Cash and Carry.
As the largest buying group in the UK, we are able to support our members with the strongest possible trading terms, together with an excellent promotional programme that is attractive to our members, their customers and the end-consumer.
Read more: Unitas makes two key appointments
In addition, Unitas provides a package of services and activity including marketing initiatives, Plan for Profit core range guidance, as well as a series of annual events, which enables productive networking between our member wholesalers and supplier partners supporting collaborative business relationships.
What are your plans to help members over the next 12 months?
We will continue to focus on supporting our members and developing more member-centric organisation in what are likely to become even more challenging conditions. We will be working with our supplier partners to negotiate the best terms on behalf of our members, while developing our relationships.
Work is already in progress to clearly define a clear direction of our foodservice, on-trade and own-brand businesses to ensure we are creating a strong and sustainable strategy for Unitas and our membership.
What are the biggest challenges for your members over the next 12 months?
Following the pandemic, how we respond to its legacy in terms of the challenges in its wake will impact our members most, such as the cost-of-living crisis and continued price increases, energy and fuel costs, continued staff shortages in the OOH channel, driver shortages, supply chain and availability issues, MOQ constraints and the pressure on margin throughout the supply chain.