Unitas Wholesale is aiming to be first choice business partner for suppliers in the independent sector with a future strategy based on being the most efficient and effective route to market, managing director Darren Goldney stated at the group’s inaugural supplier conference yesterday.

Unitas, which was formed at the beginning of November from the merger of the Today’s Group and Landmark Wholesale, now represents 179 independent wholesalers with a combined turnover of £8.5bn. Of these, 80 wholesale members with a combined turnover of £4bn trade specifically with the independent convenience retail sector.

All existing retail fascias from the two former groups – Today’s, Day-Today and Lifestyle – will be retained, but a single core range will be drawn up under the existing Today’s Plan for Profit label and negotiations for a common promotional schedule across all fascias and retail clubs will start in the new year. A new digital platform and rep visits will monitor compliance to the core range, which will be highlighted on web ordering pages and with pos material in depots.

Unitas has also introduced two new digital tools for suppliers, an optimum distribution tool which will identify the best range of skus to put into member depots to target their individual customer bases, and a service tracking tool to monitor service levels into member warehouses.

Goldney told the audience that the new group’s vision was to be their first choice business partner, championing brands and the independent sector, and called on them to invest for mutual growth.

“We have reached an unsustainable point in the industry where margins have become so low that people are going out of business,” he maintained.

“As Unitas, we are on a journey from being a buying group to being a selling group,” he added. “We are not just larger, we will also be more efficient and more effective.”