Captain Vigilante

BINGE. Superstores appear to be putting our brewers through the hoop again in the run-up to the festive season.
Is it fair? For example, Morrisons has an 18 cans x 2 offer at £18 which will certainly boost the binge-at-home market. Other offers are in the region of 20 cans x 2 for £20, which will do the same.
In an era of the encouragement of responsible alcohol retailing how does this play?
Will these offers come with free strap-on luggage wheels for the forthcoming 48 cans x 2?

SADNESS. The passing of Micheal Peacock, chairman of the former Nurdin Peacock, touched thousands in the wholesale and independent retail sector.
Not only was he a gentle man, but he had that certain natural instinct for friendship which became a foundation on which he built the company – the brightest star in the cash and carry firmament.
He proved that a business has a “personality”. This became ingrained in management and staff. It was in turn recognised by customers who adored the friendly welcome they received and the respect with which they were treated.
This is how wholesalers can succeed today – and do.

PERCEPTIVE. Editor of Convenience Store Sonia Young reminded her readers that the successful ACS bid to persuade OFT to re-think its policy on Tesco’s market domination was ignited last year by FWD.
Credit where it’s due, she said in her editorial comment, pointing out that it was FWD which pioneered the way to the Competition Appeals Tribunal (CAT).
She was referring to the attempt to halt the Tesco acquisition of Adminstore, which did not succeed at CAT due to lack of funds. ACS has these in plenty from its many large retail interests which include the Co-op, a big beast.

OFTED. When FWD was involved in the CAT, it received lots of letters of support from well-wishers but no offer of funds. But that did not prevent courageous wholesalers from putting down a historic legal marker.
It is now clearer than ever that CAT is supporting small business. OFT has no option but to signal a Competition Commission review of the market with the CAT looking over its shoulder!
Vigilante can bring his new verb into play – OFT has been well and truly OFTED.

MORATORIUM. What happened to the wholesalers’ pragmatic concept of putting on hold all small store acquisitions by the giants until the mess that is the grocery market was tidied up?
In the euphoria following the CAT’s historic decision, wholesalers wonder why a moratorium – a concept pioneered in the FWD campaign – was not demanded by ACS or volunteered by OFT.
The likelihood is that the new boss at OFT, John Fingleton, who could turn out to be friendly, was not briefed on the moratorium concept on taking up his new job.
Time is not on the side of the businesses supplied by wholesalers. OFT could impose a moratorium – and show the world that it has changed its spots. Or has it ?

RECALL. Some will remember that when wholesalers were tackling OFT on the Tesco issue some time ago, the subject of a moratorium was first raised across the table.
It was admitted from the OFT side that the imposition of a moratorium was within its remit and that it could be imposed automatically with the announcement of a market review.
So why OFT is now so shy of accepting the wholesalers’ idea is a mystery unless it feels it should not halt those acquisitions of small stores – which are now secretly in the pipeline – before the drawbridge is lifted.
John Bridgeman, former OFT chief, who now sees the errors of his ways in refusing a reference to the CC (The Guardian, November 10) would surely impose a moratorium overnight?

BRILLIANT. At a stroke, the Government has threatened a large sector of the catering market leaving electors with reduced dining out choice. It is said that a large number of pubs which now serve food will opt to become smoking venues under the new ban on smoking in public places.
This will prevent them from serving food which can only be provided in pubs which ban smoking. Wholesalers will lose business.
But if nanny allows wrapped food to be served in smoking pubs you are likely to see just how ingenious wholesalers are
in providing food untouched
by human hand or recycled nicotine.

SHACKLES. It’s too early to say how any future market review ending with shackles on Tesco will help wholesalers.
The Irish Government has axed the law on below-cost selling, which is one suggested remedy sought by retailers now unlikely to rise again on this side of the water (think cross- border . Northern Ireland etc etc).
Wholesalers do not support this concept on the grounds that below-cost pricing by Tesco and the other giants would not make a bleedin’ bit of difference (unless they pool their buying power).
Transparent supplier pricing might help. But wholesalers would be subject to printing their own “transparent” price lists. This would prevent cash and carry managers from agreeing, on the depot floor, instant ad hoc “deals” with favourite punters.

CAMPAIGN. The My Shop Is Your Shop (MSYS) campaign planners are burning the midnight oil to put plans in place for 2006.
Expect another cost-efficient generic Miror/Record money-off coupon offer which gives suppliers massive big value total wholesale/independent coverage for their brands at a fraction of the cost of doing it individually.
Aware suppliers see how the noise created by this type of national press coverage – with its linked editorial support – demonstrates their genuine support for the independent

GOODWILL. In the season of goodwill, reflect on the the way the OFT forced football shirt manufacturers to reduce the price of replicas from £40 to £25.
This brought a warm glow to the hearts of millions of dads.
You might send a Christmas card to chief exec John Fingleton (OFT, Fleetbank House, Salisbury Square, London EC4Y 8JX) asking him to bring our industry similar good cheer in 2006.
And a Merry Christmas to all my readers.

Finally. In response to permanent high fuel and labour costs, which delivered wholesaler has reduced its vehicle fleet by 20%?

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