Last year, at the Scottish Wholesale Association conference, Alex Fisher told delegates that long-term survival for wholesalers was about diversifying and “creating new market space”.
A year on and we are seeing many operators putting this advice into action – Costco is rolling out branded petrol stations and customer credit cards, while other wholesalers have launched direct-to-consumer services.
One operator in particular has stood out from the crowd: United Wholesale’s Asim Sarwar told delegates at the conference about a clever initiative to encourage school kids to drink more water. A year later, Sarwar has not only become the chair of the SWA, but United Wholesale has also just announced record profits before tax of 22%. And in our August issue, he told us about plans to increase sales by a further £30m by expanding into the on-trade.
But strategy needs to be executed by the people on the ground. A few months ago, we spent a day on the road with a Palmer and Harvey Direct driver to see, from the bottom up, how it is executing its new foodservice strategy. We posted the piece on LinkedIn, where it was ‘liked’ by 10 Palmer and Harvey staff, including Simon Edmundson, head of IT.
One industry insider said that it was useful for the people at the top to get a flavour of what’s happening at the coalface of the business.
I hope you agree.