Conference Review

Suppliers and wholesalers were given the deepest and most honest insight yet into the success of the Take Home Blueprint in papers at Drinksummit.

As the chap who invented Drinksummit back in 1989, to fill the vacuum in the interface between the beers, wines and spirits supplier and the wholesaler, I remember the gap between the supplier and the supplied in those dark days.

One aspect of the Blueprints – which now cover the off-licence market so thoroughly and have brought higher levels of sales, profit and orderliness for suppliers, wholesalers and retailers – shone through at this year’s event at Stratford-upon-Avon. That aspect is, in a word, integrity.

Everything that is correct in marketing philosophy, disciplines and execution is enshrined in the Blueprints. The presentations at Drinksummit – even those that did not mention the activity – proved that industry best advice, presented by wholesalers without any brand ownership axes to grind, will prevail.

The Blueprints have not only brought independent retailers guidance on how to run an off-licence section correctly – they are uniquely guaranteed to increase retailers’ sales – but they have closed that gap referred to above.

Ask anyone around in the early 1990s – Drinksummit and the integrity of the Blueprints have brought a new kind of relationship and understanding to our industry’s drinks arena. No wonder those employed in other product categories just wish they had the same platform.

But the sombre note of the FWD chairman Rodney Hunt, in his call for greater vigilance and action on the issue of duty fraud, was a timely reminder to the Government that its programme on this matter is failing the honest wholesaler.

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