Last month, as part of its effort to support wholesalers’ independent retailer customers, FWD joined the Retail Academy as an associate member. This on-line organisation was formed to provide training and knowledge support to the retail sector.

It originally grew out of the Retail Enterprise Network, an international partnership for independent retailers whose remit is to encourage entrepreneurship and diversity in a business area that is suffering high failure rates. Its activities are focused on the smaller independent retail Features > Business, and on training provision and support at the local level, particularly for family businesses and sole traders.

This move dovetails with FWD’s high profile My Shop Is Your Shop initiative, and, of course, National Independents’ Day which is helping the very same retailers. The activity surrounding National Independents’ Day on June 1 required a lot of work from a lot of people up and down the country, and that included FWD’s Eastbourne office in full measure. This place has looked more like a command centre for weeks, but still the underlying day-to-day business of a trade federation has had to continue – and it has.

One such activity is the revision of our guide to good hygiene practice. In an unpredictable world we all need insurance, and we usually pay through the nose for it because, alas, there’s no such word as deflation in the insurance boys’ dictionary.

But FWD provided the industry with an extremely cheap (members got the first copy free) insurance policy in 1997 when it produced “The Wholesale Industry Guide to Good Hygiene Practice”. This document does exactly what its title implies. If a wholesaler follows its advice, he will not fall foul of the myriad food and safety laws that must be complied with.

This is because the guide is itself recognised in law and any wholesaler following its advice can put it forward in a defence.
Now, thanks to the European Commission, there have been so many changes to food law in the last year or so that the guide needs to be revised. The project is being undertaken by a working group made up of health and safety experts drawn from FWD member companies and it will be overseen by the Food Standards Agency.

This is a crucial activity for wholesalers. No single company can stand outside the scope of these guidelines. Your interests are being protected. Lacors, the government body that co-ordinates local authorities, is also keeping a watching brief. This means that, with any luck, when the new guide is completed environmental health officers throughout the UK will all be singing from the same hymn sheet when it comes to depot inspections.

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