One of the new services launched by FWD in 2005 has been the Helpline which is open for wholesalers and manufacturers from now on. The Federation has resources to handle enquiries on every aspect of wholesaling – but just as importantly it can assist suppliers who need to know more about the cash and carry and delivered wholesaling culture.
FWD is not a business consultancy but because of its central positioning within the industry it can help manufacturers to cut corners and to offer advice on current wholesaler attitudes to a wide range of issues.
A call from one blue-chip supplier recently asked for advice on distribution in Northern Ireland. This may seem an elementary point to veterans on the supply side who know Northern Ireland inside out, but to a newcomer anxious to make the fastest progress to the best starting point a simple phone call to the Helpline did the trick.
These are the mundane but necessary activities of supporting the membership and associate member suppliers.
Representational activities at Westminster and the sifting of page after page of proposed legislation from Brussels and Westminster also falls into the category of low key but crucial element in the workload.
As I write preparations are forging ahead for the annual conference of the UK cash and carry and delivered industry with the best line-up of speakers ever assembled for a wholesale industry event. Conferences are a key element in the Federation’s mission of promoting and defending the interests of the wholesale industry. Our events enable the issues of the day to be ventilated and the occasion provides an A-list networking opportunity of rare quality.
Wholesaler issues are often very different from those which absorb the retail community – after all it is the wholesaler who has the direct interface with the supplier and is the irreplaceable link to the independent retailer.
Activities such as the Take Home Blueprint which is based on the wholesaler interface with the supplier and My Shop Is Your Shop, which needs the wholesaler to supply and motivate the independent retailer, can only be driven by wholesalers who genuinely care.
The latter activity is in the very capable hands of the FWD PR Action Group (PRAG) which consists of supportive wholesalers and suppliers guided by Nexus, the London PR consultancy. It can be said without fear of contradiction that PRAG is not the place for the negative thinker. This body is breaking the mould in building the model for the promotion of the value of the independent retailer in the community.