Ten things learned at FWD Live 2023

Key figures from the wholesale industry recently gravitated to Manchester to the FWD conference for a day of insight and discussion.

Here are ten key things learnt:

1. The UK wholesale net zero roadmap was launched and consisted of a bespoke carbon calculator tool for members, as well as a step-by-step climate action guide to help wholesalers reach net-zero targets. The report reveals the UK wholesale value chain was responsible for producing 18m tonnes of CO2 equivalents in 2021. It then goes onto explain that wholesalers are only directly responsible for approximately 4% of these in the operation of their businesses (referred to as Scope 1 & 2 emissions), with the majority in the chain upstream from manufactures and suppliers (referred to as Scope 3 emissions).

2.The Future Leaders Forum panel debated whether AI is it the future of wholesale, with the panel questioning the 51% who said ‘no’ to the in-conference survey question ‘Are you using AI in your business?’ They argued that the vast majority of supply chains wholesaler use will already be heavily involved and so wholesalers will be part of it indirectly even if they’re not fully aware.

3. Jonny McQuarrie, Booker chief operating officer confirmed that the Premier concept store in Grantham is performing really well since launch with 50% uplift in sales. He also announced that Londis is set for an in-store and digital brand refresh, with ten retailers already signed up to it.

4.McQuarrie also added that two dark stores in Stoke and Exeter serving mainly Premier customers are performing really well, with each one only supplying 3,800 lines. He pointed to potential further dark stores in the future and on a sperate note, praised Booker for the improved availability during the summer months. This came after a decision was made to invest in volume earlier in the year.

5. Parfetts managing director Guy Swindell was positive about the gains the wholesaler has made in improving share price points, with certain confectionery suppliers moving from £1 to £1.25.

6. The Parfetts chief also spoke about the pandemic ‘breathing life back into the cash and carry’ and the wholesale doubling turnover as a result.

7. Swindell then described how the vaping category has been somewhat of a nightmare for Parfetts with local knowledgeable specialists dominating the market and delivering to c-stores. He called for more help and advice from suppliers.

8. Birchall Foodservice’s Louise Birchall has explained how the wholesaler’s bespoke training days and workshops have worked really well in promoting their ranges to customer and advised other foodservice industry officials to invest in similar events.

9. Bidfood ‘s Andrew Selley revealed future plans for new depots and acquisitions. He also called the members of the company’s Caterfood buying group ‘truly independent with the ability to sell and buy to who they want, when they want.’

10. KFF ‘s Phillip White believes own-brand is having its moment in the sun due to the cost pressures throughout the industry. He was also keen to point out the huge benefits of AI in certain parts of wholesale operations.


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


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