Wholesalers and suppliers need to work together


2015 is the year wholesalers and suppliers should work together and shout about their successes, says Martin Williams.

As the majority of 2015 still lies ahead of us, this seems the perfect time to reflect on the myriad challenges and opportunities that present themselves for our industry as a whole. With an election in the spring, it is a time of uncertainty but I believe there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic.

For wholesalers, 2015 represents a year of great opportunity, with unlimited potential and scope for success ahead of us. I firmly believe that the greatest opportunity of all is to find ways of working closer with suppliers to better understand each other’s needs and those of our customers. This will not only bolster our offer and provide our customers with a continually improving service and range but will also enable our customers to prosper and be in better positions to take advantage of the many chances that may come their way.

In a similar vein, I think the biggest challenge facing suppliers during 2015 is to maximise the opportunities wholesale offers in both the convenience and foodservice sectors. The market has never before seen such changing dynamics of multiple volume and value losses, alongside such growth in convenience and foodservice. I implore suppliers to work with us to really take advantage of this unique situation the wholesale landscape presents us with. I have every confidence that we can replace the multiples’ lost volume.

Of course, when I talk about challenges for the sector as a whole, it would be impossible not to reference the tobacco display ban in April. Everyone in the sector recognises that this will have repercussions and it’s clear that we need to wait to see how the impact is felt across the industry. Once stores implement the changes and it becomes the norm, I fully expect sales to return to near normal. However, in-store staff training will be crucial to ensure the law is adhered to.

And of course, the on-trade industry remains under pressure. Pubs continue to struggle. To compete, they need a fresh approach, not only offering competitive pricing but also a great food offer.

At Landmark we recognise this and, as a result, we are advanced in our plans to provide a one-stop shop of food and drink for any type of on-trade premises.

As with all industries, what is essential for progress and success is that we embrace innovation and move with the times. We must grasp the many technological opportunities and focus on the future. Now is not the time to apply old-fashioned thinking or a fear of the unknown.

We all know that wholesalers make an enormous contribution to the UK in terms of creating jobs, supporting businesses, adding value and, most essentially, keeping supply lines open. We work tirelessly to overcome obstacles as they present themselves, such as winter weather, travel issues, supply shortages or industrial action. It is essential that this year, we raise awareness of the role we play and how integral it is to our nation’s success.

2015 is the year to shout about our successes and work together to make this year even better than last, and I really believe it will be.

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Martin Williams is the former managing director of Landmark and the former chairman of the Federation of Wholesale Distributors


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