National Buying Consortium has enjoyed considerable growth since its launch in 2019.
The group now has more than 50 members with a combined turnover of over £600 million.
Making the group unique is its National Distribution Network – NDN – which offers suppliers a centralised order to cash, warehousing and logistics service.
Managing Director David Lunt and Chairman Jason Langmead tell Wholesale Manager how the group benefits both members and suppliers.
What benefits does NBC offer members?
DL – We offer a variety of benefits that you would expect from a buying group, and one or two that are unique. Clearly, scale of purchasing is business critical for a group of independent businesses, and we pass on all commercial benefits in full and on time.
JL – As a member I see the benefits of access to great brands at great prices and realistic volumes as significant, which is why NDN exists. And the support from the group and their marketing partners, May Marketing, especially with the brochure service, helps me to market our business to our customers more effectively.
What benefits does NBC offer suppliers?
DL – Access to multiple channels so that they can activate their brand plans with one point of contact. More and more, it is clear that NDN provides a centralised order to cash, warehousing and logistics service in a channel that has been consolidating for many years.
JL – Collaboration and transparency in what we do, and the ability to engage directly with members.
How frequently do you communicate with shareholders? Do you provide shareholders with transparency about what you do?
DL – Because shareholders are members, we communicate every day sharing information about brand activities and insights from what is working between the members.
JL – In my role as chairman two to three times a year, providing updates on the group’s progression and presenting the annual results at the AGM.
Do you charge a membership fee?
DL – No, we set this group up as an ownership model, not a membership fee based model, our members are effectively investors and can dictate how well they and the group perform by their contributions.
JL – No, as a member I do not pay a fee. As a shareholder I have a greater degree of engagement in what the group does and how I can help it.
Tell us about your management team – what experience do they have in the wholesale industry and how are they making a difference to your business and the industry in general?
DL – I have been in this industry as a supplier and within buying groups for over 35 years so I have the benefit of working both sides of the desk. This gives me greater insights into the demands of both suppliers and members so that we can collaborate well for better results.
JL – A very long time! As a member business I can appreciate the benefits of trying to influence, positively, how we and our suppliers approach the channels we serve to get brands to consumers that want to buy them. I know what our customers need, so together we can translate those insights into action. We are always happy to share these insights with our suppliers to help everyone in the sector.
How much is your membership growing year on year?
DL – We had an initial surge in the first two years of our journey. More recently we have had approximately 6 enquiries per month; what is important is the right fit for both businesses – ownership requires a different mentality compared to an annual fee based membership.
JL – As a member of the board I appreciate the fact that we can review applications and make sure, as stewards of the group, that we approve those that are right for the long term.
Is your supplier base growing and by how much?
DL – Yes, on average two to three per month as we venture into new categories or are approached to launch new products. We always want to offer the members a wider variety to keep some form of USP.
JL – As a member it is great to see the NPD and innovation that comes with new suppliers. This helps me to keep our business relevant to our customers.
What figures do you have for NBC’s sales performance?
DL – Core categories are up 50% +, and NDN at 40% +.
JL – The potential is enormous for the group but as a member we need to ensure that we can access products all of the time, in full so that the brand’s consumers are not disappointed at the point of purchase. How would you know NBC’s influence is expanding through the industry?
DL – My diary is full! I think that we make a cohesive case for everything that we are doing for both members and suppliers.
JL – Speaking to both members and suppliers at our recent networking event at The Belfry there is a great deal of confidence that I have not seen for a long time.
How is NBC planning to expand its business in the future?
DL – Investing in resource to support our business in the things that make a difference and not just a long list of services that very few people use.
JL – Having free access to a web to print brochure service will make a massive difference to both our business and how we support suppliers activating their brand plans.
What would you say to suppliers who are considering doing business with NBC?
DL – We are open and collaborative, and will always offer advice to get the right plans in place.
JL – Bring it on! We love to support innovation and NPD and will always support it if it feels right for us.