Sales of chilled products at Bestway’s symbol group Best-one have increased by more than a third since the introduction of a central picking process last Autumn, the wholesaler reports.

The service, which was launched on 26 October, sees members’ chilled orders picked to order at source then delivered to their local depot for onward delivery within 24 hours. Previously, individual depots were responsible for fulfilling chilled orders, meaning that product date codes were often compromised.

Since the launch of central pick, availability has increased to 97% and overall sales grown by 34%, with fresh meat and fruit and veg increasing by 17% and 46% respectively. Other categories including dairy and chilled snacks have also seen double-digit growth.

Bestway symbol director James Hall said: “The introduction of central pick has delivered on so many fronts. Crucially it means that products are delivered to store with a much increased shelf life, in effect de-risking the category. We are able to forecast and plan better and therefore offer greater availability across a wider range of chilled and fresh products.

“Chilled will account for 40% of a store’s total taking by 2020. Given the introduction of the [national] living wage, the Insurance Premium Tax and the reduction of tax-free dividend income, retailers will find life that little bit more expensive. So it is critical that they focus now on high margin areas such as fresh and chill.”