APRIL DIGITAL EDITION – We have the technology

The future of delivered wholesaling is bright, the future is digital, says Confex’s Business Development Director Tom Gittins in our interview. Thirty percent of the buying group’s member wholesalers used Confex’s website three years ago, now the figure is up to ninety-five percent. But the biggest game changer is Confex’s “white label” app, which members can offer to retail and catering customers to give them online ordering. With 49% of wholesalers saying their investment priority is online marketing and execution, Tom Gittins says the Confex Members App is enjoying a growing uptake among Confex’s 244 current members. Following the merger between Landmark and Todays, Confex remain an associate member of Unitas, and continue to have an aligned promotional programme and terms: “We see it as protection against external threats: the supermarkets, Amazon and others are all nibbling at the wholesale sector.”

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You need to be clued up on the tech stuff, but there’s still room at the top in wholesaling for people with talent. We talk to Guy Swindell, Parfett’s recently appointed Retail Director, who has gone in twenty years from part-time warehouse operative, via the trading department, to the main board.

Even with growing numbers taking up vaping, the display ban and the other legislation, cigarettes remain half of Parfett’s business and are still a huge category for them and many other wholesalers. Speaking of cigarettes, the Track and Trace legislation monitoring the movement of tobacco products in the UK retail supply chain, comes into force on 20th May. We talk to Mark Yexley, Head of Communications at JTI, who says their research shows many retailers are unsure of various aspects of the new legislation, and the picture is much the same among wholesalers.

In our features, Britain is world famous as a nation of tea drinkers, but coffee is set to take over as our top hot beverage. Claire Williams, Group Marketing Manager at Caterforce, the foodservice buying & marketing consortium, says the number of coffee shops has grown just under 10% and they could outrank pubs by 2030.

When they aren’t forking out £2.60 for a Grande Caffe Latte, Britain’s increasingly price conscious shoppers love a good Price Marked Pack. In our dedicated feature, PMPs provide a tried and tested way for wholesalers and their retailer customers to offer consumers confidence that they’re getting value for money when shopping in the impulse channel, and are an important part of many suppliers’ core offering.

With people working longer hours, more women working and more of us making more frequent shops from convenience retailers on our doorstep, convenience retailers’ share of household and laundry sales is growing, as our Laundry feature confirms.

Finally, the UK BBQ market grew from 9 million occasions in 1997 to an estimated 137 million in 2018, worth around £1.6 billion. The season kicks off in earnest at Easter, which is later than usual this year, with Good Friday on April 19. If the sun comes out on schedule, people are likely to spark up the charcoal promptly and carry on through to September. Have a happy and prosperous Easter!