Investment breeds success, says Landmark Wholesale managing director Martin Williams

Over the last few years, the face of UK wholesalers serving the independent foodservice and grocery markets has changed dramatically.

Wholesaling is no longer simply about piling goods high in warehouses for delivery on to customers or for customers to come in and buy for themselves. Wholesalers are now much more customer-focused and offer a whole range of ancillary services and information aimed at helping independent retailers grow their businesses.

Negotiating the best deals on products to allow independents to compete effectively is still a crucial part of a wholesaler’s remit, but advances in technology have enabled them to collect and analyse sales data from which they can create valuable business aids such as best seller books, planograms, core ranges and shopping lists. Research conducted by HIM showed that retailers trust their wholesaler for impartial advice on a range of important issues like store layout, category management, pricing, refrigeration and marketing. We at Landmark Wholesale take this responsibility very seriously and work hard to provide all of our customers with sound quality advice.

The wholesale market is fiercely competitive which is good news for independents as wholesalers are vying for their custom through own brand product ranges, promotions which help them compete with the multiples, drop shipments and retail clubs such as our own Lifestyle Express Retail Development Programme.

Suppliers are keen to help independents too. They are investing in the sector via wholesaler offers and promotions but, as PepsiCo’s impulse sales director, Jon Kyle, said at our annual overseas conference earlier this year: “Suppliers want to and will invest in the independent sector but unless the sector gets the execution right, they will invest more elsewhere.” In other words, retailers need to be doing their bit by maintaining clean and tidy stores, eliminating out-of-stocks, stocking the core ranges, and implementing promotions etc. Suppliers will invest more in retailers that are disciplined. It’s a virtuous circle where investment breeds investment and success breeds success. We as wholesalers need the independents to be successful to make us successful which in turn attracts more supplier investment.