Interview: Dee Bee Wholesale

Paul Hill speaks to the the management team of Dee Bee Wholesale

Tell us about the company? Dee Bee Wholesale is part of The Ramsden Group, which also includes Ramsdens Home Interiors and our Re-Scan EPoS solutions business. We supply from our de- pots in Grimsby and Hull, which encompasses more than 60,000sq ft of floor space featuring around 10,000 products.

We have depots located north and south of the Humber river, giving easy access to the M18
and M62. This means we can service a large area from Whitby on the Yorkshire coast in the north to Boston and the Lincolnshire coast, including Skegness in the south. We also have a reach across the M62 to Liverpool and North Wales, with a spread of retail customers in that area.

Dee Bee is a hybrid business, with both depots operating as traditional cash and carries, but predominately operating as delivered hubs with a fleet of 16 vehicles.

Over recent years, we have developed our on-trade business significantly, but remain a re- tail-focused operation in the main.

What are the latest developments at the company? In the past year we have re- launched our Today’s symbol fascia, moving towards new branding, which has been very well received by the retailers who have adopted it. This has been supported with new signage in store for a complete package.

As part of this development, we’re relaunching our loyalty rebate scheme, with an industry- leading discount of up to 6% for our symbol group retailers, which is one of the highest rebate levels in the industry.

Operationally, we’re aiming to extend our use of solar panels across the entire Grimsby and Hull operations. This will allow the company to generate all its electricity itself with the opportunity to sell any excess back to the grid – improving our green footprint while reducing costs.

We’re also investing in the development of a new version of our Re-Scan EPoS solution. This development will make the product more cloud-based and allow retailers to use it remotely. It’s a big project and significant investment by the business, but the Re-Scan product really sets us apart from the competition and is a fundamental part of our symbol package, so it’s important.

Several other Unitas wholesalers also use our software, so the development will help them grow their EPoS estate, and further help their retailers, too.


What is your digital offering? Our transactional website has been industry leading for some years and we have worked with many suppliers’ digital teams to continue to improve it. Work is now ongoing to refresh some of the user interface to keep us at the front of the pack.

We’ve also added a fully functioning app, alongside the desktop site, which is mobile friendly with a number of order capture options to suit all retailers/publicans – we need the solution to be as flexible and customer centric as possible. On top of that, TWC’s SmartView platform also allows us to track product sales through depot into retail and out to the consumer.

This is possible because of our Re-Scan product and is available to suppliers to support their distribution goals and mutual sales.

How is the business performing overall? Overall, we’re performing very well with great growth this year. However, we are noticing some impact with the cost-of-living crisis, with some customers not always taking advantage of the great deals on offer and taking a cautious approach to purchasing at present.

From a category perspective, soft drinks are still big performers and post-Covid there has also been a bigger drive for confection- ery, which is up around 20% and that is putting a strain on factories – the big two are certainly challenged for capacity and availability. In terms of alcohol, we’ve seen some decline, particularly in wines and spirits, which are down around 10%. We believe this is down to cost increases and a more health-conscious public.

What is the latest with your on-trade business? Our on-trade customers are holding up and it feels easier to grow that sector compared with retail, at the moment. For our largest customer, we work with Molson Coors in a porterage agreement where we consolidate deliveries with packaged products. It shows how much we’ve grown in the 15 years since we entered the on-trade to now be trusted by the likes of Molson Coors to
distribute their products, and we supply 400 venues overall now in the on-trade, and have become a respected player in the local area.


Do you have any growth plans? We certainly don’t have plans to open any new depots. We opened Hull in 2017 because we were doing 3.5 million cases out of our Grimsby premises, which was at capacity, so it allowed us to balance our deliveries out between the two depots, and grow our footprint.

We continue to focus on developing our on-trade business through customer acquisition and improved competitive product offer. Development of our symbol estate remains key in retail with a focus on recruiting great retailers who want excellent service and support for their business.

What are the biggest challenges facing the industry? Input costs continue to be a challenge, though energy is currently manageable. The labour market remains tight, and recruitment is a challenge, particularly for us in the summer where we have significant seasonal demand that needs manpower flexibility to service. Further increases next year in the National Minimum Wage are, of course, needed, but remain a challenge to absorb if prices cannot move up in the market to help spread the load.

What gives the company its USP? I think we’re in a great position in that we’re small enough to be adaptable, but big enough to operate with some scale. We’re also uniquely positioned with our own EPoS solution, which is a real benefit to us and our symbol customers, plus a hybrid model that serves the on-trade and retail channels through a cash and carry and delivered service.


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Paul Hill is the Editor of Better Wholesaling. He can be found on Twitter at @BW_PaulHill, or contacted via and 07960935659.


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