Tom Gittins

BW: What is Confex’s unique selling point?

TG: We don’t charge a joining or membership fee. We offer an exclusive, members-only, central distribution facility, too. This enables members to buy mixed pallets directly from suppliers, with promotional prices across 42 supplier portfolios and on more than 10,000 items.

How has Confex expanded and attracted new members over the past year?

We have grown as a group by more than £1bn since 2014, with the addition of 24 new members and 49 associate members. We continue to welcome new businesses to help strengthen the group’s buying power and we are proud to have very few barriers to membership.

How has Confex developed members’ businesses?

We focus on all aspects of members’ businesses. To ensure they remain competitive, we run a full calendar of national promotions, spanning retail, foodservice, ambient, chilled and frozen. We offer five promotional formats tailored to members’ businesses – Supersaver, Caterersaver, Poundsaver, Alcoholsaver and Retail Club. We also ensure members can trade with suppliers through a dedicated account-opening facility, combined with the ability for members to trade using Confex Central Distribution.        

What impact has your support had on members’ businesses?

We have enjoyed continued double-digit growth at Confex since 2010 due to members diversifying into new product categories, with the help of group-pricing and promotions across 203 official suppliers. Confex can offer preferential trading terms spanning across all wholesale product categories so that members are able to start trading competitively from day one.

What category support does Confex provide to members?

We have a detailed online resource for members that offers pricing and promotional information across our supplier portfolio, along with information on ‘core range’ and ‘must stocks’, broken down by end-user outlet. Members have access to a full product image library and can view promotional plans for the year ahead to enable planning for seasonal fluctuations. We are also industry-leading in member communication, with a weekly e-newsletter offering industry news and market reports. In addition, we enjoy a social media ‘reach’ of more than 500,000.

What has been Confex’s most significant achievement for its members this year?

We’ve traded ahead of the sector across a number of product categories. Soft drinks, snacks, confectionery, canned, non-food and chilled are all performing especially well, growing within Confex twice as fast as at our competitors.

What does Confex plan to do over the next year to ensure that members get the service and added-value that they need?

We’re continually developing our member offering. Already this year we have: taken on seven new suppliers; relaunched the online web order portal for Confex Central Distribution; invested in ‘e-savers’, our bespoke member brochure programme; developed our member services to include a free advice hotline on health and food safety, employment law, HR, occupational health, and absence management training solutions; and added Erudus, which enables members to verify allergens and ingredients across our supplier product portfolios.      

What will be the biggest challenge Confex members face this year?

The biggest threat to members will be the merger of Tesco and Booker. But we’ve seen that when national wholesalers grow, they lose sight of service excellence, and this is where Confex will continue to win. By focusing on local customers, our members will continue to enjoy the growth we’ve seen, with Confex offering the tools they need to keep ahead of the competition.    

What are the latest announcements from Confex?

We have welcomed seven new members who have joined Confex this year, and we are proud to announce that we are on track to smash our growth target of becoming a £3bn turnover buying group by 2020.

Fast Confex Facts

Name of latest member: Dunsters Farm
Buying power: £2.7bn
Number of members: 234
Number of combined sites: 278
Biggest members: Millennium (retail) and Spicers Office Team (foodservice)


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