You'll never get rich selling wholesalers' own labels. That was the mantra in the 90s from the big brands - and from those wholesalers without strong own-label portfolios. But that thinking could be due for review in these unusual times.

Wholesalers are looking admiringly at Booker's sales of its squeeze-sensitive low-price Euro Shopper range with average retailer margins of 30%. One store in my ken says the ES energy drink outsells Red Bull by 33%. One senior independent wholesaler is urging his buying group head office to follow Booker's example. "We're missing a trick," he points out.

So expect more value own labels in the New Year.

Iconic Londis retailer Sunder Sandher, whose wisdom lights up the FWD PR Action Group (PRAG) running My Shop Is Your Shop, tells me that price is now the dominant factor in his community.

He advises stores to go with the flow as people shop locally more frequently, buying just-in-time to meet daily needs, a sentiment back up by IGD and Tesco data.

But suppliers could help wholesalers to attack this emerging market with more urgency by providing smaller packs and so on. Wholesalers say that despite big brands suffering lower sales from reduced space allocation as the giants increase own label lines, some suppliers are slow in seeking more volume in wholesale to compensate.

Just-in-time is also producing higher- frequency visits to the cash and carry by retailers. But number crunchers in the delivered sector are working on delayed credit for some of their hard-hit retailers - a tactic not available at cash and carries.

In tough times it might be that the store owner is more productive behind his counter than he is escaping from the wife and chewing the cud with his mates in a chilly cash and carry warehouse.

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