The wholesale industry reunited for the first time in two years at the FWD Gold Medal awards, with Creed Foodservice and Parfetts among the winners in London.
Individual winners included Sugro’s Tabitha Hunter-Smale winning Wholesale Star, and Kelly Burrows, who was chosen as the Emerging Talent of the year and one of three awards for Blakemore
Meanwhile, Southampton-based Harvest Fine Foods was the recipient of the new small wholesaler of the year award, a new category for wholesalers with a turnover of less than £20m. It’s managing director Dr Richard Strongman said: “I was very proud to accept the Gold Medal award for Smaller Wholesaler for 2021 on behalf of my team who have worked exceptionally hard both during, and in the post-pandemic period. They have shown resilience and adaptability and a great sense of pride in the public service we offered to home delivery customers and people in vulnerable groups.”
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FWD chairman Coral Rose welcomed 750 guests and addressed the challenges faced by the industry in her opening address: “Panic buying in the early days of the pandemic; the closures of hospitality and schools; millions of pounds of stock on the shelves with no one to buy it; little or no support from a Government that just didn’t understand how food gets to plates. And then stock shortages, driver shortages, depot staff shortages fuel shortages, CO2 shortages.
“But we’ve come through it all, and we will continue to do so, with the support of product suppliers and service providers who understand that wholesale is a vital route to market, a natural home for brands, a channel that thrives on partnerships, and a great place to build your career.”
The Medals for suppliers were nominated and voted for by wholesalers and Pepsi Max was chosen as Retail Brand of the Year, with Hellman’s the winning Foodservice Brand. Kellogg’s was chosen for the Service to Wholesale medal, and Retail Product of the year went to Cadbury’s Twirl Orange.
“The winners and shortlisted finalists here tonight are our Wholesale Heroes, and I want to tell them on your behalf just how highly we value their extraordinary commitment,” Rose said.
Retail Wholesaler sponsored by Boost Drinks
The judges said this was an outstanding entry by Parfetts who challenged themselves to be ‘the easiest wholesaler to do business with.’ During the pandemic the company converted its depots into 24 hour operations investing in depot expansions and 26 new lorries. Like-for-Like sales increased by 40%, and on line sales now account for a third of business.
Shortlisted: Bestway Wholesale, Dee Bee Wholesale
Foodservice Wholesaler sponsored by Unilever Food Solutions
With its company culture of ‘Believing in More’, Creed ensured its customers received all they needed through the pandemic. Over 200 new accounts were opened in the first 6 weeks and with heavy investment in additional stock, order fulfilment of over 99.7% was achieved. The company is helping customers meet the requirements of Natasha’s law, and opened The Creed Barn, a Covid secure outside venue for cooking and menu development sessions.
Shortlisted: Brakes, JJ Foodservice
Smaller Wholesaler sponsored by Lumina Intelligence
Harvest Fine Foods
Harvest’s home delivery system was up and running within 24 hours of lockdown, attracting over 14,000 customers and helping online sales to grow five-fold. Targeting sustainable cost sector business saw very positive trading results, while new developments included helping the vulnerable with recipe boxes, and webinars to prepare customers for Natasha’s Law.
Shortlisted: Mevalco, Robinson’s Fine Foods
Digital Innovation supported by Imperial Tobacco
JJ used its tech company Foodit to help restaurants launch their own websites in the early weeks of lockdown. With its fixed commission Foodit helped hospitality customers operate profitably and sustainably online. It enabled restaurants to print their own QR codes to use on tables and menus so customers could order and pay online, contact free.
Shortlisted: Bestway Wholesale, Time Wholesale Services
Use of Data and Insight sponsored by Budweiser Brewing Group
Time Wholesale Services
Time proved to the judges that they have turned Data into Insight and then into Action, supported by some immense results. The “Voice of the Customer” initiative has been fundamental in futureproofing the business and is driving drive more efficiencies, reducing costs, and moving Time to a paperless business.
Shortlisted: Bestway Wholesale, Pricecheck
Green Wholesaler sponsored by KP Snacks
Carbon Trust Associate Director Silvana Centy said Booker’s submission outlined clear reduction goals, demonstrating reductions on carbon, water and waste year after year and setting Science Based Targets aligned to the level of decarbonisation required. The judges welcomed Booker’s sustainable sourcing initiatives and the supporting statements from Fareshare and Olio.
Shortlisted: Brakes, Lomond
Telesales Star sponsored by Premier Foods
Alan Mayor, AF Blakemore
Alan takes the time to understand customers needs and then marries them to Blakemore’s offer. He is always praised for his open, honest and supportive leadership, and the role he plays in developing his team members. With this balance of knowledge and personality he has exceeded his sales target by 50%.
Shortlisted: Hannah Malone, Dunsters Farm, Grace Mullins, Harvest Fine Foods.
Star Driver sponsored by Upfield
Ryan Hunt, Bidfood
Ryan is described as the perfect advert for Bidfood’s Slough depot, having become a senior driver and recently doubling up as Transport Supervisor. During Covid he put his own health on the line to make sure Hospitals, Care Homes, Prisons and Schools were stocked. Nothing is ever too much trouble for Ryan who is always cool, collected, and dedicated to the business.
Shortlisted: Mark Fletcher, Creed Foodservice, Colin Woods, Booker Scotland.
Wholesale Manager sponsored by Britvic
Mazhar Akram, United Wholesale Grocers
Mazhar impressed the judges with his initiatives, his focus, his passion and his commitment to the business, which has led to a near 60% increase in depot sales. He also introduced Wellness training for both staff and customers. Mazhar foresaw the HGV driver shortage and convinced the company to change their fleet to vans, and he worked on a brilliant staff sharing scheme for United’s retail customers.
Customer Development sponsored by Heineken
Ian Cawley, AF Blakemore
National Account Manager Ian impressed the judges by going over and above during the pandemic when he actually did better than his own buying team in securing stock and availability. He is described as a focussed manager, a team player within the business, and crucially a great communicator. His company say he’s an unsung hero who is a credit to the wholesale industry.
Shortlisted: Gary Wright, Booker, Shane Kendrick, Harvest Fine Foods
Wholesale Star sponsored by Barr Soft Drinks
Tabitha Hunter-Smale, Sugro UK
Described as “relentlessly positive”, Head of Business Development Tabitha supported over 80 members through covid, keeping in touch through lockdowns with regular video calls, and two online conferences. Her efforts contributed to 12% sales growth and the recruitment of 13 new members. Tabitha is part of an Alzheimer’s Society initiative and thanks to her 75% of staff are now being trained as Dementia Friends.
Shortlisted: Kelly Pye, Millennium Group, Louise Lyle, Bidfood
Emerging Talent supported by JTI
Kelly Burrows, AF Blakemore
Our judges were amazed at Kelly’s understanding of supply chain and logistics management and her staggering results in a complex industry, including 700,000 food miles saved annually. She has led negotiations with more than 150 suppliers in the last two years and improved supply chain efficiencies with new Backhaul and Centralisation initiatives.
Shortlisted: Natalie Bance, Bidfood, Ryan Neale, Bidfood
Gold Medal Retail Brand sponsored by Parfetts
Winner: Pepsi Max
Shortlisted: Kellogg’s Cornflakes, McCoys.
Gold Medal Licensed Brand sponsored by Bestway
Shortlisted: Birra Moretti, Thatchers Cider
Gold Medal Foodservice Brand sponsored by Unitas
Shortlisted: McDougall’s, Kellogg’s
Gold Medal Data and Insight sponsored by SalesOut
Shortlisted: KP Snacks, Unilever Food Solutions
Gold Medal Service to Wholesale sponsored by Booker
Shortlisted: AG Barr, Premier Foods
Gold Medal New Retail Product sponsored by Unitas
Winner: Cadbury’s Twirl Orange Shortlisted: Rubicon Raw, Monster
Gold Medal New Foodservice Product sponsored by Bidfood
Winner: Hellman’s Vegan Mayo Shortlisted: Violife, Ribena Sparkling
Gold Medal Digital Innovation sponsored by Confex
Winner: Red Bull
Shortlisted: Kraft Heinz, Swizzells Matlow
Gold Medal Process Innovation sponsored by Bestway
Shortlisted: CCEP, Nestlé Purina
Gold Medal Green Supplier sponsored by American Express
Winner: Molson Coors
Shortlisted: AG Barr, Accolade Wines
Gold Medal Emerging Talent sponsored by Costco
Winner: Frankie James-Howes, KP Snacks
Shortlisted: Sandy MacEwan, TWC