Bestway is introducing a store within a store concept where Best-one or Costcutter retailers can open a franchised Bargain Booze section within their shop.

The concept was announced at the Bargain Booze ‘Drinks at Home’ trade show in Liverpool.

At the show, Bestway and various beers, wines and spirits suppliers spoke on how retailers can grow their alcohol business.

Dawood Pervez, Managing Director of Bestway Wholesale, tells Wholesale Manager what are the biggest developments in the sector and what are his plans to grow the business.

How is Bestway helping Bargain Booze retailers grow their business?

We believe we have the best offer in the business drawing off scale and many years in the business. We help our retailers grow their business in many ways and continually look to the future:

Our team stays ahead of trends, forecasting consumers’ changing needs and delivering new and emerging categories to reenergise and keep shelves fresh.

We ensure availability and ensure supply e.g. under Covid-19 we changed formats to meet the uplift in home sales as opposed to OOH.

Our promotions are some of the strongest in the business enabling our retailers to make more margin.

Our investment in progressive digital and tech means our retailers have access to features and platforms that help them grow their business and make more possible such as a home shopping apps, and increased functionality of web. Consumer shopping behaviours are changing and we follow what the data is telling us in how customers like to shop and also using our data to help retailers get to understand their customers better.

Our team works closely alongside our retailers helping them every step of the way imbedding new ideas, fresh thinking and sharing knowledge to increase best practice and sales uplift.

How can Bargain Booze retailers boost sales over the festive period?

At Bestway, we work from a 12 month rolling marketing calendar which highlights key occasions, events and activities that are relevant for our customers in order to drive footfall and sales. The calendar also includes New Product Developments from our suppliers and based on supplier insights, trends etc.

In terms of what methods we use, these include a combination of – sometimes all – of the below:

• Starting early in line with consumer trends following consumer concerns over supply at Christmas.

• Segmenting our customer data – based on KPIs

• Targeting KPIs e.g. a distribution drive to attract new customers through personalised offers

• In depot displays and sampling to build theatre

• Staff and customer incentives

• Digital content to promote offers

At Bestway, we always work in collaboration with our supplier partners, but we also use our own business experience and knowledge when deciding what and how to lead on each type of activity.

What are the biggest developments in wholesale at the moment?

Wholesalers are looking at how to add further value to their customers whilst looking inwards at their own businesses following 2 years of the pandemic. We believe there may be further consolidation in the market in the months ahead, but in terms of immediate developments:

Wholesalers are investing in data and digital and are really starting to ‘catch the tiger by the tail’ in this respect regardless of the markets they serve.

The value of data has been recognised and cannot be underestimated. Applying this insight and data into digital strategies including loyalty and reward, home shopping apps and online features (to support their customers) is a fast-moving development – it is estimated in broad terms that the UK has accelerated 6 years’ worth of progression (in less than two years) in relation to this digital progression.

With supply chain disruption seen over the past few weeks, wholesalers are looking at their teams and working in close collaboration with suppliers to ensure continuity of supply.

There is a growing movement towards healthy products and re-energising categories as HFSS looms on the horizon for April 2022. This has the potential to create a significant shift in supply and demand from spring next year when the legislation comes into effect.

How is Bestway performing as a business overall? Is turnover growing?

The wholesale division has 65 Bestway and Batleys depots spanning the length and breadth of the UK. We supply and support over 40,000 independent retailers. As a business with a UK turnover of over £2billion and with our comprehensive logistics infrastructure, we have the scale, purchasing power and expertise to help our customers compete in an ever-changing food and drink sector.

Our business remains strong due to the agility of decision making throughout Covid which enabled us to move in line with changing consumer behaviours and stay ahead of our customers’ needs. Further to the acquisition of CSG (Costcutter) in late 2020, this added scale and rigor to our business.

As consumers continue to value their local community stores, trading has remained strong with our divisions such as BestPets continuing to grow in pet wholesale in line with the general growth in the pet market.

How digital is Bestway as a business and do you offer any IT support for your members e.g. ordering apps, online support, delivery tracking?

Bestway is a leader in this space, steering the way with our ecommerce platform, advancing our websites, creating three apps, whilst investing in digital analytics platforms. It’s critical to offer the same high level of experience in our depots as we do for our online customers.

Our digital platforms provide us with a real advantage in the market over recent months, enabling us to keep customers up to date with the very latest consumer trends, availability and helping retailers to identify new opportunities to grow sales by prompting retailers to increase stocks across key product formats. One example included a message on our web landing page telling customers multipack soft drinks were growing by 41%.

When the retailer clicked the message, they were presented with a suggested range of multipack soft drinks, with product images, pricing and promotions to buy into. This is a win-win for Bestway, supplier partners and our customers, compared to using more traditional analogue marketing point of sale, which is less efficient.

At Bestway over the last year we have invested and improved across the breath of the business in regards to technology. We are the market leader in digital developments including the first in the industry to introduce our bespoke apps for Bestway Wholesale, BB Foodservice and Best-Pets and continue to invest and drive digital developments.

We most recently entered a partnership with Jisp, the mobile shopping platform which works together with our retailers to support their local communities by providing Home Delivery and Click & Collect services.

In regards to our customer data we are now using tools such as ‘Content Square’, giving us deeper insights to help us understand hidden customer behaviours, and we are using these insights to drive more successful experiences.

We aim to offer our customers the best in insights and have introduced ‘Taggstar’ which is a real-time social proof messaging vehicle, which allows us to build customer confidence and enables them to make more informed choices using real-time analytics and allows us advanced A/B testing.

We have a new online tool ‘Digital Toolbox’ which we have developed in partnership with Red Bull, designed to help our retailers grow their category sales with insights, personalised planograms, store walkthroughs and a fair share calculator.

Last year, we switched search provider in a move to work with a partner with an advanced AI-Powered Commerce Search, in order to create a more relevant and personalised experience that allows more accurate conversions and a more enhanced customer journey.

We have also invested in an advance email platform that forms part of our omnichannel marketing with features to allow us to reach KPIs in a more targeted way.

We have also focused on improving some of our internal marketing, trialling a new automated direct mail process – replacing plastic envelopes with recycled paper wrap envelopes – which not only improves efficiencies and improved our CSR credentials and costs but also provides us with a new advertising vehicle.

Did your depots remain open during the Covid-19 crisis?

Yes – our depots were never more needed and valued by our customers through the crisis and our team worked amazing hours and with total dedication to keep these vital hubs open to our customers.

Was it difficult to enforce social distancing in-depot?

We put in place rigorous process and systems and trained our teams as safety was of paramount importance to us all. Our team remained ever vigilant and the majority of our customers certainly respected social distancing at all times and we have very few issues in this respect.

How was your business and the wholesale industry in general affected by the Covid-19 pandemic?

To stay agile, support our existing retail customers and ensure availability of stock, we had to make some changes to our setup. We stopped issuing day passes to unregistered retailers, reduced trading times in key hub depots to allow our teams the time to replenish stock safely before picking for delivered orders. This gave us the added advantage of maximising delivered availability, despite the significant disturbance to supply chains. We have gone further than government guidelines and offered all our staff PPE to ensure they feel safe and valued.

Whilst keeping staff safe throughout this challenging period, we kept all depots open and deliveries on the road, making delivered retail customers a priority, not just in hub depots but across the entire depot network. The business invested in new hires, offered overtime to existing drivers and mobilised some of its sales teams to depots to support its service offering and general availability. We assisted stores to set up local delivery solutions and launch the Food parcel service for the vulnerable.

Has Amazon become an even greater threat over the last year, given the rise in online ordering due to the pandemic?

There is no doubt that Amazon is set to have an increasing impact on grocery retail and convenience. However, I would argue that with every challenge – there comes opportunity.

Amazon is currently on the quest of speeding up its networks to make delivery times shorter and shorter. And, what better opportunity than for this to take place through local delivery hubs -otherwise known as local convenience stores who are themselves increasing their home delivery footprint in line with fast-changing consumer’ behaviours. We may yet see ‘poacher turned gamekeeper’…

The other point I would like to make is that the larger shops and bigger baskets are more likely to be squeezed along with the general merchandise retailers. As for Amazon – these are low hanging fruit and where profitability is more likely to be focused in the short term. Having said that – Amazon has never been one to sit around – it will be creating strategies coming out of Covid adversity and no doubt looking to implement fast.

What impact do you think Brexit will have on the industry?

Clearly Brexit is here and now – it’s longer a question of ‘if’ – we all now need to mitigate its impact. The inevitable impacts are around labour markets, a shift to different pools of labour resource, increased prices on some elements of the supply chain and logistics. Ultimately, these will all have an impact on food inflation, which is already being seen in the marketplace.

What are your plans to grow the business in 2021?

Our expectations are for the business to continue to adapt to consumer trends, provide great service to our customers and deliver continued growth over the coming year.

We have strived to provide our customers with the best availability and value possible over the past few months, sustaining everyday low prices and promotions, where other wholesalers have significantly scaled back promotions. We expect our convenience, vans and pet specialist business to sustain strong growth and we are ready to support our foodservice and on-trade customers to re-start their businesses.

We are well positioned and determined to build on recent momentum and emerge even stronger from 2020 and drive sustained growth in 2021.


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