Alex Yau finds out the wholesale needs of Manchester retailer Stretford Food Hall
Which wholesalers do you use and why do you use them?
As well as being a restaurant, I’m also a Simply Fresh retailer, so I get my products supplied by Costcutter and Co-op, but I also go to specialist wholesalers such as Suma and Cotswold Fayre. I have products supplied by some of the local breweries as well.
One of my store’s unique selling points is that it stocks products that aren’t easily available elsewhere, including whey protein, craft beer and bread made by local suppliers.
Do you get your orders by visiting the cash and carry or having them delivered directly to Stretford Food Hall?
I mainly use delivered wholesale because of the convenience, but there will be times where I’ll go to the cash and carry when I’m running low on a product that I need quickly.
As I run several stores, sometimes it’s physically difficult to drive around depots to pick up the stock and take it back to the store. Delivered is useful because it gets rid of this hassle and stress.
How can wholesalers improve the online ordering experience?
Wholesalers can improve the online ordering experience by making sure they update retailers more regularly on quantities and availability of stock. Any changes in pricing should also be made available promptly.
Which categories would you like to see wholesalers improve in?
I’d like to see wholesalers improve on reacting to the latest trends like vegan, gluten-free and categories that accommodate certain dietary requirements. There’s a lot more choice now than there was several years ago, but there’s still a way to go. These are popular trends already and they’re continuing to grow.
How would you rate the wholesale sector when it comes to responding to new products?
The sector is quite slow for independents when it comes to getting new products. It’s usually the multiples who get new products first.
One example is the White Chocolate Coco Pops which came out recently, or previous releases from Kopparberg. Independent retailers had limited stock, but in Tesco there were pallets of them. You either can’t get the latest products or the suppliers prefer to give more stock to the multiples instead of independent retailers.
Which food trends do you predict will do especially well at Stretford Food Hall this year?
I think the continuing trends will be food to go, vegan and free-from. We’re still seeing a demand for these products in my stores and there’s no slowing down. It’s not just a popular category in Stretford Food Hall, but in my store in the centre of Manchester, too.