Four things Martyn Fisher learned after meeting new Today’s Group MD Darren Goldney.
Kitwave – which moved from Sugro to Today’s last month – is an example of what is happening in wholesale. They are a group, but even if you look at individual wholesalers, the days of what I call specialist wholesalers – that is, ‘I just do on-trade’ or ‘I just do retail’ – are not gone, but more wholesalers and groups like Kitwave are seeing a broadening opportunity.
As a result, we have many wholesalers who are trying to approach the on-trade and others who do nothing but licensed now putting in a grocery offer. They are experts in their own areas, but they are not experts in that broadening area. Therefore, the challenge for Today’s is to be the umbrella that houses centres of expertise.
When I started the job in November, I visited two of our members who had diversified their businesses by using their premises as wedding venues. Ultimately, if independent wholesalers have an asset, the question should be how can they use it in different, profitable ways?
If the costs of running as a wholesaler are spread, you can provide a better deal for the core businesses you serve – independent retailers and caterers. So, if there are ways to diversify, spread your cost and do a better job, then that is absolutely fantastic and beneficial, and an option that should be explored.
Alignment of scale
We want Today’s to be the first-choice business partner, but to be that, we have to be better at the alignment of our scale. When you look at the best of what our individual members do, it is as good as anybody. But do we do it consistently across a large enough estate for the managing directors of the major manufacturers? When they look at their strategic partners and assess who will be the movers and the shakers of the future, do Today’s, Landmark, Sugro and Confex figure in those conversations?
I would say no. To be perceived as a viable, substantial force, we must be able to show that we can align that scale in the right direction. If we can do that, today is the time.
Core range execution
The biggest single opportunity in the market is core range execution. There is probably not one independent retail store in the country with 2,000 SKUs that has the top 20% of every single category. Now, they do not wake up in the morning and think, ‘I am deliberately not going to stock a top-seller,’ but it still happens.
So if we could actually work with our supplier friends to get that right – and it is an advantage the multiples have got because they can force the right products into the right places – then I think it is the biggest opportunity for the independent sector.