Captain Vigilante

PIONEERED. There should be widespread support for the ACS complaint against the Office of Fair Trading to be heard by the Competition Appeals Tribunal (CAT).
The road to the CAT was, in fact, opened by FWD in September last year when it raised the profile of protests against the Tesco acquisition of Adminstore.

It was a legal achievement for the Federation when the court ruled against OFT’s plea for its total costs – following the FWD withdrawal provoked by the intervention of Tesco into the hearing with its subsequent potential lethal costs.
The court said that such interventions must not attract awards of costs, thus FWD achieved a precedent now benefiting ACS which will not have to fear legal financial homicide.

BET? What are the odds on Tesco getting a red card from the Competition Commission?
The broadsheets (which do not enjoy Tesco advertising) are publishing lots of anti-Tesco features and news stories which may make Sir Terry feel as though he is as demonised as fellow scouser, bad boy Wayne Rooney. Unfair?
Who is driving these stories? The Sunday Times had Sir Terry in a general’s army uniform (British) directing his commanders, “Leahy’s Legions”, into war to win 45% of the market!
All this – more powerful than worthy trade lobbies whose work is not seen by the general public – adds to the political pressure on the CC to act.

BOYCOTT. No, not Sir Geoffrey but a suggestion made at a wholesalers’ meeting that BP garages should be avoided by the total wholesale/independent payroll.
This follows the proposed acquisition of 30 former BP and Safeway forecourts by Tesco, subject to clearance by the OFT (a given).

The queues at Tesco superstore pumps during the recent blockade scare demonstrated the hold that the giant has on the petrol market. Police were called to restore order at one Eastbourne site.

IGNORED. A correspondent grabs a headline in a trade paper by claiming that suppliers should not be asked to support the FWD’s highly successful My Shop Is Your Shop marketing campaign promoting independent retailers.
This suggestion was made on the grounds that the big brands have supplied the big four at very low prices, thus making independents’ lives very
difficult.
Wholesalers are reminding this stranger that they have a very strong bond of interest with these suppliers in supporting the independent – suppliers cannot live without the wholesale/independent alternative route to market.
Meanwhile, suppliers are as keen as ever to support MSYS and National Independents’ Day because it’s a unique and positive generic consumer – based marketing activity. It’s the BIG idea in the supplier/ wholesaler/ retailer partnership.

LIDL. Is this fascia the big threat to independents? Vigilante hears local people praising the store for its grocery (Sharwood’s 415g curry sauces at £1.29 for example).
Its non-food offering is, however, what pulls in the punters making the Lidl experience interesting and affordable for its target shoppers.
Hyperama has got the same strategy – treat the customer who has specially chosen to visit you to an interesting experience.
This could be the winning cash and carry philosophy: it has not done Makro or Costco any harm.

ROCHDALE. That’s where the feel-good socialist Co-op movement began, based on retailing where the shopper received a divi and a lot of tlc for local communities.
This is why local people are angry about the Co-operative Group, its 21st century presence closing post offices caught up in the sale of some acquired but now unwanted Alldays c-stores.
Should the Co-op be reminded that under its culture, a c-store is not just for Christmas but for life?

NUTS. That seems to be the appropriate response to the idea floated in the food pages of The Grauniad (31/8) that if a restaurant has “chargrilled” items on the menu, one should ask to see the grill.
Brakes and 3663 were named in the article as “purveyors of labour-saving prepared dishes to restaurants” as if this were a new hanging offence.
It did not occur to the writer that professional wholesalers were responsible with manufacturers for raising standards in the catering market.
A return to the high prices which arise from old-style kitchen disciplines would spoil the enjoyment of millions, removing them from the market. Hacks need educating, don’t you think?

VALUE. Some people know the price of everything and the value of nothing, someone said. At the risk of prolonging the issue, Vigilante must record reader support for Dudley Ramsden whose salary was mischievously leaked.
A wholesaler called to say: “The buying groups give great service and value to independent wholesalers who would be lost without them. Nisa-Today’s is a great organisation.
“If the men at the top run a group which delivers to me the deals I need to run my business profitably then they deserve top dollar. Every wholesaler I mix with thinks the same,” he added in his unsolicited testimonial.
That should bury the issue for good.

SECURITY. Unlike supermarkets in a multiple chain, no two local independent stores are alike. So remedies to improve turnover need to be clear, flexible and adaptable but based on principles of integrity which must be followed.
The FWD Blueprint schemes are successful because they recognise these truths. The latest idea from the Blueprint – which one blue-chip impulse brand recently described as the most quoted example of best practice – is to trial anti-theft security caps on high value spirits.
This, if successful, will enable smaller stores to take 70cls and litres out from hiding behind the counter and place them on shelf for self-select near the counter. The prize is huge.
One comment was that shoppers do not like security devices. But Tesco, king of the market, uses them as does Sainsbury. Are they wrong?

HELP. A row has broken out among the Community Stars, those sole traders and family businesses who have committed to supporting the My Shop Is Your Shop (MSYS) consumer marketing campaign.
A survey revealed some opposition to the yellow T-shirts supplied by MSYS for in-store theatre on National Independents’ Day on June 1. Bad for skin tones, too bright, said the antis. Great for impact, said the others.
Sonia Young, editor of Convenience Store, warned pre-launch that some of her cooler readers would prefer something more subtle. Budgets rule out a choice of colour.
A colourful dilemma then. A bottle of Vigilante red to the reader who come up with the solution for MSYS.

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