Slaves to the city

When I was approached to write this article and offered a free hand to cover any topic, I was faced with a huge problem. This market has so many good points but a great number of challenges from so many areas.

There’s the inability of the Government and civil service to comprehend the outcome of legislation, allowing themselves to be manipulated by fully- funded minority groups.

There are the challenges of the high street multiples offering promotional structures and everyday low pricing that not only guarantee a profit margin of which most of us can only dream but also still hurt independent retailers and wholesalers who on occasions feel as if they have been abandoned and thrown to the wolves of commercial destruction by the suppliers who want to save us.

[pull_quote_right]How long will it be before suppliers get an invoice asking for more money to bolster up the company’s profits to keep the city happy?[/pull_quote_right]

Then there are the retailers who won’t follow the promotional structures made available by suppliers because they believe that profit margin is the answer. They ignore not only the volume equation of cash margin but also the fact that consumers must have the confidence of pricing value in the local store.

And then there is the amount of time spent dealing with the pricing errors on invoices from suppliers and the time spent by administration departments trying to get them credited – the insistence of full payment with the promise of credit by the suppliers. This all adds to the cost of business and time not spent developing business for the and the customers.

I have to say I am spoilt for choice. But we do have some great points to remember. This is an exciting vibrant market, full of character and entrepreneurs of all ages and abilities.

Technology is driving the retail and wholesale market, remodelling the future of how we all trade. And despite the prophecies of doom, the resilience of the independent wholesale and retail market continues to drive turnover, with new businesses opening every year and existing businesses expanding.

Such a choice of topics to discuss and so much freedom to express it all. But if I must choose one, it has to be how dynamic this sector has always been, despite all the change and commercial difficulties it has faced. It is a lesson of which many businesses should take notice because despite the ups and downs that this sector constantly faces, it continues to thrive and survive, unlike the organisations that many of our suppliers fund.

Look at the disastrous figures declared by Tesco (slaves to the city!): how long will it be before suppliers get an invoice asking for more money to bolster up the company’s profits to keep the city happy? Look at Morrisons, Ocado and the Co-op – consider how these organisations have taken the cream from other market categories and killed the specialists within those categories.

The independent sector will be here in 20 years’ time and oddly enough, we will still be saying exactly the same as
I have here. But we will still be here and we will always be a force in the marketplace because it is made up of so many individual businesses.

Many don’t understand or appreciate the collective value they give to the economy or the UK. But we should all be proud of the contribution we have made to the continuation of the role of the independent.

However, suppliers please note that your and our journeys would be so much smoother with an equal marketplace in which to compete. But it is nice that you fund the profit margin of the city and have become as much a slave to the city as the major retailers you fund.

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Philip Jenkins is the managing director of Sugro, a buying and marketing group for delivered wholesalers with an annual turnover of £870m. It comprises 74 members and more than 1,300 non-fascia stores.


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