Amid the Brexit noise, UK wholesaling remains calm, all set for a buoyant festive season. It’s to be expected. Many major British wholesalers began as family businesses, supporting local communities. A classic example is Parfetts, whose Chairman Steve Parfett criticised the CMA last year over the Tesco-Booker merger. Steve is leaving the now employee-owned company that bears his family name but there are still many strong voices to speak out in the coming months.
In our interview Unitas Wholesale MD Darren Goldney talks about the new group’s mission to be a champion of independent wholesalers and brands, supporting wholesalers and their retail customers while offering suppliers an efficient route to customers, independent of the multiple grocers.
Reflecting the social changes since the FWD began and women’s growing prominence in wholesaling, Bidfood’s four FWD 2018 Gold Medal Awards included Bidfood Scotland’s Katie Sillars winning Young Wholesaler.
This is a big hearted industry. Among Bidfood’s FWD Gold Medal haul, Bidfood Edinburgh’s best Depot Team citation mentioned them supporting Fairshare’s Edinburgh warehouse. Bestway gave Great Ormond Street £100,000 in November. And last month’s GroceryAid Sporting Lunch raised a record £515k to support colleagues in need and help former employees find jobs.
Two decades ago low, no, meat-free and free from alternatives were tacked on at the end of suppliers’ lists, but as our Healthy Living feature says, these days wholesalers and their customers must grasp ‘healthy,’ particularly meat free, or miss out on the biggest consumer trend in years. The healthy impulse is also driving the growth in vaping. As our feature reports the latest Next Generation Products to help smokers quit are a long way on from the vape products of a few years ago and demand is growing rapidly.
Also in these pages Spring Confectionery comes into its own when we’re feeling low after New Year. Wholesalers wanting to brighten January’s gloom should stock a wide range of chocolate and sugar confectionery, and encourage independent retailers to do the same. In October Matt Goddard, PepsiCo’s Wholesale Trading Director spoke about their market leading snacking portfolio, with its Walkers core brand celebrating its 70th year. This time Matt talks about PepsiCo’s overall portfolio, including Tropicana juices and Quaker breakfast products.
With the festive season here we also interview Scott Bayliss, Molson Coors’ Wholesale Director. The company’s ambition to be ‘First Choice for Consumers and Customers’ involves ensuring wholesalers help independent retailers make a strong local showing by stocking speciality and craft beers like Cobra, Grolsch and Doom Bar alongside familiar favourite lagers, like Carling and Coors Light, all part of Molson Coors’ portfolio. Finally, whatever happens after Brexit, we can trust Britain’s wholesalers to hold firm and keep customers stocked, like they did after P&H’s collapse and the ‘Beast from the East’ blizzards. Merry Christmas and see you in January.