Senior wholesalers have united in tribute to Alan Toft after he announced he would retire from the post of director general of the Federation of Wholesale Distributors at the end of April. He has been in the role for 16 years.
He will be succeeded by John Murphy, currently deputy director general, who has worked for the FWD for 10 years specialising in government affairs and new legislation.
Toft is credited with relaunching the Federation as a high-profile representational body which raised the importance of the industry in the eyes of the Government and suppliers.
FWD chairman Rodney Hunt, commenting on the announcement, said: “Alan’s positive contribution to the independent sector has been immense. His 16 years at the helm of FWD are punctuated by achievements on behalf of all wholesalers in the UK. Though he will be greatly missed, we wish him a very long and happy retirement.”
Toft will continue to chair the My Shop Is Your Shop (MSYS) campaign as a consultant to FWD following his retirement.
In his first year with FWD, Toft launched ProWholesaler, together with the annual events Drinksummit and Catersummit.
In 1993 Toft began to persuade the drinks industry to back the Take Home Blueprint initiative, and today the Blueprints are widely respected, carrying a guarantee of increased sales for independents who implement them.
He was also the architect of the award-winning My Shop Is Your Shop campaign. This spawned National Independents’ Day, the first national celebration of the value to the community of the local family owned store, which was launched last year.
During his time in charge, the FWD has also claimed a number of notable victories in campaigns to challenge Government plans.
Prior to taking the helm of the FWD, Toft worked in journalism and marketing, including founding Independent Grocer magazine (now Independent Retail News).