Hidden talent

Clare Bocking urges wholesalers to attract greater diversity, writes Elit Rowland

BW: What’s it like being a female channel manager in a male-dominated industry?

CB:There is a male bias in wholesale, but I think there’s value to be gained from making our industry attractive to a greater diversity of people. If you look at the senior leadership teams of all the wholesalers, there’s a 100% strike rate of males.

From the perspective of attracting talent, having greater diversity is always good. It’s a healthy challenge for the sector to consider whether the talent that we have reflects the customers that we serve.

Britvic has decided to go it alone after talk of an acquisition. Will there be any changes?

Yes, the new Britvic will be different. A lot of that is because of Simon Litherland coming in. There’s a new energy, buzz and positivity to the organisation – Simon is carving out a great future for the group and there will be many changes moving forward.

How important is the wholesale channel to your business?

Wholesale is very important to Britvic – it gives us access to a diverse range of businesses, from independent retailers and caterers to off-licences and top-end restaurants, in a way that no other sector does.

How about foodservice – what are the opportunities here?

Foodservice is also important: the type of customer shopping in a depot is changing – it’s not just about independent retailers anymore. Foodservice operators and caterers are using the cash & carry more than ever before.

This introduces the challenge of how to create the best merchandising solutions for soft drinks. We are talking to caterers to understand what the catering opportunity could look like for the cash & carries and recently undertook some research with a major wholesaler to find out how to optimise our brand for caterers in depot.

How important is signage in helping caterers and retailers to know where to go?

Signage is important but one of the biggest challenges is interrupting someone’s dash when they are shopping in the cash & carry – they could have a sign right in front of their face and they might not even notice.

Are wholesalers doing enough with retail clubs?

There’s a big opportunity with retailer clubs and we want to help make these clubs as competitive as the multiples. There are some fantastic retail club operators at the moment – we need to help that best practice to become the industry norm.

What do you think wholesale will look like in 10 years’ time?

The amount of volume bought without visiting a depot is increasing, which means the role of the depot could change and the way we advertise our brands will change. It could be that pallet wraps, online advertising and phone advertising become more important.


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