The £4 billion deal for Tesco to buy Bookers may take until early 2018 to go through, with experts predicting that the Competition and Markets Authority will demand a lengthy investigation into the competition aspects. Tesco’s One Stop chain is expected to face particular scrutiny if it is viewed as competing with Booker’s retail franchises. And then there’s the franchise versus c-store question – is a Londis shop a Booker-controlled retail outlet, or it a Booker customer? We shall see.

For many UK grocery wholesale professionals, 2017’s biggest business uncertainty is the changing prices of imported foods due to currency fluctuations as the Brexit process rumbles on. Meanwhile the challenges of sourcing high quality products from approved suppliers around the world are plain sailing for S.O.P International, featured on our front cover with their Khanum Pure Butter Ghee. Established in Runcorn in1971 as a packer and processor of edible oils, S.O.P have been importing and distributing a wide range of Oriental and Asian foods since 2003.

Another specialist highlighted in our World Food feature is Oriental grocer Wing Yip, who remind us that it’s just been Chinese New Year and this is the Year of the Rooster. Also in this section Grace Foods are helping growing numbers of consumers expand their taste horizons, as Encona sauces win over more and more households. And there’s more food for thought in the taste trend predictions in McCormick and Schwarz’s latest Flavour Forecast.

We also have our first look of the year at the Warehouse, taking in warehousing and logistics for cash & carries and delivered wholesalers, with stories from the leading equipment and services suppliers. If Tesco’s proposed takeover of Booker proceeds and they offer Booker and its depots access to their supply chain, it will raise the game for wholesale chains in general, whose logistics operations have historically lagged behind supermarkets because they haven’t needed to deliver the same service levels.

Also in this issue, don’t miss our exclusive interview with Michael Robinson, MD of non-food distributor Robinson Young, who won the Landmark Non-Food Supplier of The Year Award in 2015 and outright Supplier of The Year in 2016. Michael argues that as a nation we are more hygiene conscious now than 20 years ago, but it’s still crucial for wholesalers to help independent retailers to have a good showing in the imminent Spring Cleaning season.

Finally in our Quote Unquote section we hear from Tony Lorman, UK Commercial Director at Danone Nutricia Early Life Nutrition, whose brands Aptamil and Cow & Gate are leaders in the baby feeding market. If you’d like to feature in Quote Unquote, let us know!

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