Paul Hill talks to Confex’s business development director, Tom Gittins, about the buying group’s plans and the challenges faced along the way.
Number of members 244
Group buying power £2.87bn
Biggest member Millennium Group
Latest member DCC Foods
What is Confex’s USP?
We have been a buying group for 47 years and have never operated up-front fees for members. We are very proud of this fact as it allows any wholesaler, no matter how small they are, to join and leverage the group buying power of £2.87bn.
What has been your most significant achievement over the past 12 months?
To launch our industry-leading free app for members. Members can customise their own customer facing app – worth £30,000 – with no ongoing fees.
In November, we also launched a head office app, enabling our members to view thousands of current promotions and purchase via our central distribution facility. Our data shows that members are buying 26% more via the app with NPD gaining 57% more exposure when utilising the app’s promotional features.
How have you expanded and attracted new members over the past 12 months?
We have welcomed 18 new members. In these difficult times, it is brilliant to see local wholesalers thriving and, at Confex, we are here to help these businesses diversify and achieve their business growth ambitions.
What are your plans to help members over the next 12 months?
Digital is our focus as we believe this is how local wholesalers can sell on a global scale. We will be rolling out our member app, enabling members to compete with national wholesalers within the digital landscape.
We are also setting up category-focused trading committees to enhance our strategic business plan with our top members and suppliers.
What are the biggest challenges for your members over the next 12 months?
Wholesale is being dominated by the big players, which is putting pressure on margins for the local wholesaler. Confex must continue to be the voice for the local wholesaler and make them competitive.
Local wholesalers are customer-focused, nimble, reactive and offer an unrivalled localised product portfolio. It is for Confex to continue to help these brilliant businesses to flourish for another 47 years.
The Green Wholesaler Awards
Confex recently celebrated its eighth trade show in Cirencester, with more than 500 suppliers and members making the Devere Hotel a hub of activity. Following the show, the awards ceremony took place, with the buying group using it as an opportunity to reward members that have enjoyed environmental and economic success.
The winners were
Best Retail Wholesaler – GWD Convenience
Best Foodservice Wholesaler – Dunsters Farm
Best Practice Wholesaler – Nasco