All businesses want to grow distribution but how can wholesalers and cash & carries do it in a way that’s sustainable and profitable – and doesn’t require a multi-million pound investment? Elit Rowland investigates.
Getting great brands into the hands of the right people is a fundamental mission for wholesalers. But as the multiples, discounters and now digital wholesalers continue to move into traditional wholesale territory, getting distribution right has never been more important. In this feature, wholesalers, manufacturers and media specialists share advice that’s helped their businesses to thrive.
Step 1: Evaluate your business
Every day, we read about how wholesalers are opening new branches and entering new areas to secure more market share, but growing distribution doesn’t have to mean getting physically bigger, according
to the retail director of the Today’s Group John Kinney.
“Consider whether you have maximised your potential – are you fully using the options that are available to your business? For instance, are you offering an online ordering service to attract new business and analysing customer data to see where the growth opportunities are?”
Expanding too soon can be risky, Kinney warns, adding that wholesalers must grow for the right reasons. “Look at the multiples – they got carried away opening lots of branches and now many of them are being closed.”
One business that’s come a long way with just one branch is Shetland-based Hughson Brothers. It has enjoyed steady growth over a number of years. “We’re based on a small island so there’s only so much you can expand,” says managing director Carl Cross. “Instead of opening new sites, we’ve invested £300k over the past year to improve our operations and service to customers, including buying a new 24-ton vehicle, which enables us to deliver an extra two pallets of goods to customers per week.”