Spring at last

‘Transformational’ Tesco-Booker deal: Confex orders go mobile: grabbing the Healthy Living opportunity

As winter finally changes to spring, the tectonic plates continue shifting in UK wholesaling.  The City has hailed Tesco’s Booker acquisition as a major success, with investment bankers JP Morgan Cazenove calling it ‘transformational’ for Tesco because it puts Booker’s Charles Wilson in charge of Tesco’s UK and Ireland retail and wholesale operations. With Booker added, Cazenove predict Tesco will generate an extra £1bn of earnings and £4.4bn of cash flow.

Morrisons’ involvement in wholesale is also paying dividends, with its deals with Amazon and McColl’s c-stores helping drive a 5.8% annual sales rise. Having revived the Safeway brand for wholesale, Morrisons is supplying goods to 25 new McColl’s stores every week, and to Rontec petrol forecourts.

Meanwhile AF Blakemore, the family-owned food distribution and SPAR operator is selling its 12 cash & carry depots after a strategic review. Joint group MD Geoff Hallam said the move will allow Blakemore to invest further across its wider business and focus on its remaining divisions, as it continues to drive innovation in the retail and wholesale distribution sectors. Blakemore will continue to be a member of Landmark Wholesale.

Confex, the wholesale buying group has signed up RNF, the technology provider to supply a white label mobile ordering app so Confex’s 244 members can offer their customers mobile ordering. The offer supports Confex’s strategic focus of helping their members grow and giving them the tools to remain competitive. Available on both iOS and Android platforms, the ordering app will offer barcode scanning, search and filters and click & collect.

As our Warehouse feature reminds us, cash & carries and delivered wholesalers have evolved considerably over the decades and are increasingly sophisticated businesses, with growing reliance on technology. But when all is said and done, both kinds of operation are basically still big sheds full of goods, which come in and are stored until they go out again, and attention must be paid to equipping and running them and keeping them in perfect order.

Speaking of warehousing and logistics the KFC stock shortage saga shows how difficult it can be at times for large distribution operations to deliver to hundreds of end points from a single hub. It was good to see Bidvest Logistics, who lost their KFC contract because they were too pricy, come out of the ensuing mess up with their reputation untarnished and a new long-term agreement to supply KFC’s restaurants in the Northern UK.

Also in this issue, don’t miss our Healthy Living feature. When the warm weather arrives shoppers start thinking about healthier living and lighter options for eating and drinking. Whether they’re going to outdoor occasions and events or simply enjoying being in the garden, the demand for more refreshing, lighter alternatives represents a major opportunity for wholesalers and their suppliers.

And finally congratulations to Bestway Group Chief Executive Zameer Choudrey, who was recently awarded the Star of Excellence from the President of Pakistan, for advancing Pakistan through his philanthropy. Have a successful spring.