Independent retailers can still be successful in difficult times by fully embracing the idea of partnership with their symbol group supplier, Blakemore Trade Partners managing director Jerry Marwood told delegates at the group’s annual conference in Birmingham last week.

He told the assembled retailers: “There will always be external challenges and things that get in the way of business success, but it’s only by working together that we overcome these. We have to be prepared to work with you when times are hard, physically if necessary, to invest in your businesses.”

Delegates heard how the company is to adopt a new retail pricing strategy to smooth out retail price and margin changes, particularly on lines in its ‘Tesco Price Match’ programme, and to explore a phased promotional schedule whereby ambient, fresh and off licence promotions would change on different days to make them easier to implement.

More than 200 stores in the wholesaler’s catchment area have already signed up for the group’s Retail Partner Scheme, which offers wholesale price reductions in return for range and planogram compliance, loyalty and flexibility over delivery times.

As an additional incentive, the group is launching a competition scheme for promotional compliance, with £20,000-worth of free stock in prizes available for those passing an audit for availability, display and pos material.

Blakemore is also cutting wholesale and retail prices for key fresh produce lines, and is offering a rebate equal to the increase in sales for any retailer successfully growing their fresh sales over a 10-12 week period. The wholesaler has also cut prices on 80 non-food lines, and will up its range of round pound items to 150 this year.