A recent discussion on Christmas must-stocks provoked a suggestion from a senior big brand executive that independents should ask their wholesaler what these should be a move away from the normal recommendation that suppliers know best.

In most cases the wholesaler will be the depot manager of the cash and carry favoured by the retailer, and whether this is part of a big group or a small independent, the chap who runs the depot is a true hero who has to contend face-to-face with a wide spectrum of customers who can, and often do, make life difficult.

Your chosen depot manager runs the cash and carry according to his employer's disciplines. He is the go-between and it says much for these commercial diplomats that their skills are reflected in the success of our cash and carry industry. He will know what sells fast and what does not in his area. Above all, he will know inside out the pull of the brands that power our marketplace.

It is all due to wholesalers' technology. It is now increasingly recognised that must-stocks, which were once only listed on a regional TV basis, are becoming the subject of micro focus. A top-seller in M25 geography is not necessarily top on the South Coast. The Tyne and North Yorkshire regions have differences, too, but of course there are still big national must-stocks.

So it makes sense for the reader seeking advice to make a friend of the depot manager who is only too anxious to make a friend of you.

In the next weeks, you can help by refraining from pointless whingeing about the multiples and their offers, or availability issues about which your depot manager and his team are helpless.

So get into the co-operative festive team spirit at your cash and carry it will be remembered come 2011.