The annual conference of the Federation of Wholesale Distributors, at The Belfry on April 18 and 19, is designed to an agenda moulded by the times in which we live – another event reminding the market of the unique importance of wholesaling.

But as arrangements for the annual conference draw to a close, the Eastbourne offices of FWD are already buzzing with preparations for Drinksummit, the big one in beers, wines and spirits. Then it’s Catersummit in October.

How valuable to the industry have these events become! The reason is they are specific to our industry and they are organised by a specifically identified, stand-alone, focused organisation answerable only to wholesalers.

Drinksummit takes place at the Stratford Manor Hotel, Stratford-upon-Avon, on June 7, with the usual opportunity to meet up with friends and contacts at the networking pre-conference informal dinner on the evening of June 6.
The seeds of the Take Home Blueprint initiatives were sown at Drinksummit more than a decade ago – and it is now the proven springboard for increased sales for both wholesalers and retailers.

The Blueprints, and the newly emerging My Shop Is Your Shop campaign, are some of the added-value elements which FWD brings to the marketplace. These educational activities must be wholesaler driven through the wholesaler-retailer interface.
This is my final column as director general of FWD, but not, I hope, my final journalistic involvement in ProWholesaler. Journalism has been my oxygen since my first school soccer inter-house report for the Glossop Chronicle from the local Grammar School.

I was a young, skinny inside left for Spencer House (blue, naturally) and among the older opponents was one Stuart Hall (Nightingale House, red unfortunately), who was very talented and could have made it for City, his favourite club, but for distractions, but who is now the greatest football commentator.
One final paragraph. I must pay a very warm tribute to all the FWD chairmen with whom I have worked. But especially to Rodney Hunt, independent wholesaler and retailer champion par excellence, whose generalship and expertise, commitment and vision, has been of the highest order.

I call him Mr Integrity. He is not aware of this note and I can see him now preparing a slight protest and reaching for the phone … but it’s so true Rodney, and it’s about time someone said it.

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