The effect of Covid-19 has had a variety of positive and negative implications on wholesalers. Certain foodservice companies are struggling to survive, whereas convenience distributors have seen their profits sore.
Unitas Wholesale is a buying group that works across both of these and always in the process of welcoming new members at a time when the industry needs to come together more than ever.
Managing director Darren Goldney spoke to Better Wholesaling about the latest news at Unitas and what the future holds for the buying group:
What is your unique selling point?
The industry is facing many challenges, and never more so than now, and every independent wholesale business recognises the need for support. At Unitas Wholesale, we pride ourselves on offering our members the very best support.
Engaged, responsive and interactive with our members, we pride relationship-building above everything else. We invest heavily in time spent creating strong, lasting relationships to benefit all. This is against a backdrop of a highly competitive terms package that includes everything from wholesale prices to a full and varied marketing and promotions programme.
Alongside greater buying power, better deals, increased margins and improved access to suppliers, members also benefit from our central distribution, IT support, credit terms, award-winning own-brand ranges and our invaluable insight system.
What has been your most significant achievement over the past 12 months?
Our progress is characterised by the growth in independent member wholesaler numbers to 172, and the expansion of our supplier partner network benefiting from a centralised conduit to the independent channel. We have agreed more than 330 supplier agreements, with supplier partners reporting an aggregated 4% revenue increase in 2019.
We have had a number of first year successes that have occurred outside of the growth figures above, including initiatives such as Picture Portal, the execution platform for business-to-business and business-to-consumer promotions.
Our core range compliance programmes, such as Plan For Profit, have generated more than 90% member compliance, together with approximately 50,000 pieces of PoS sited on a quarterly basis.
What are your plans to help members over the next 12 months?
Looking forward, we are excited to have launched the Unitas Data Service offering insight on more than £1bn-worth of sales data. Also, completely new concepts such as Brand Box, the pilot programme for NPD providing supplier partners with access to 1,000 stores at launch.
We will also continue to build on digitally enabled initiatives to be a first-choice business partner and will use initiatives to demonstrate compliance within our membership.
We will also work with our suppliers to achieve shared goals through the Supplier Scorecard and our Supplier Council.
What are the biggest challenges for your members over the next 12 months?
The biggest issue for our membership right now is the ongoing situation with the coronavirus. Having the government instruction to close key outlets, while expected and understood, is still a devastating economic blow for a number of our members, their customers and other wholesalers across the sector.
Amid the disruption and uncertainty, wholesale is responding with speed and agility on a scale never seen before, and I am incredibly proud of our membership.
Collaboration on stock share, people share, vehicles and best practice has shone through at the start of the pandemic, alongside amazing stories of goodwill, innovation and community spirit. However, it is clear that the coming months will prove incredibly difficult for many in wholesale.