Captain Vigilante

COUPONS. The doubting Thomas syndrome was working in over-drive when the Federation of Wholesale Distributors was presented with the idea of a generic tabloid money-off coupon promotion that would create footfall in local independent stores. But reality has kicked in – and the coupons with big savings on very supportive big brands appeared in the Daily Record (Scotland) and Daily Mirror on May 27. Fantastic!

FWD members rely on independent retailers (and vice versa) which is why it is the only organisation which can drive this type of promotion. Wholesalers must be in the pilot’s chair to oversee the purity and exclusive focus on independent retailers.

There is a huge by-product of the My Shop Is Your Shop campaign that has not received its due recognition. It is, of course, the focus it has placed on the total wholesale industry in the eyes of government and suppliers.

Instead of bleating about this and that, the message from MSYS is “Just look at what we are doing constructively to help the independent retailer to serve his or her local community in a hostile marketplace”.

PURITY. That’s one of Vigilante’s favourite words. For example, the Wholesale Confectionery and Tobacco Alliance, like FWD, is a nice example of purity. It is a body which is purely there for companies linking into its heritage of … well, what it says on the tin. It could not be “said plainer” as they say in Bury, Lancashire.

Now FWD and WCTA are working together on the scandal of maverick traffic wardens, beyond the control of any structure or authority, who continue to harass and unfairly ticket wholesalers’ delivery vehicles in central London.

FWD has struggled manfully with this issue, and has been fobbed off for 15 years by every bureaucrat imaginable, during which successive intakes of clerks with power have absorbed the buck-passing mantra of their predecessors.

PROUD. Wholesalers are a proud lot. As action men they can be proud of the way in which every wholesaler in the UK has warmed to the aforementioned My Shop Is Your Shop campaign and its associated generic money-off coupon promotion.
Every company in the UK, whether members of FWD or not, can join in and help to drive this campaign which focuses on the genuine independent retailer as never before.

This campaign transcends sector politics. It shows wholesalers in their true light working for the greater good, supported by manufacturers who share the same vision.
It’s a vision which highlights truth, far better than any manufactured PR. It’s a vision which focuses on the value of the independent in the local community. So come on wholesalers and suppliers of integrity, keep it going after NID.
Let’s be havin’ you!

IGD. The number of retailers who were once outsiders (this latter category of independent who insists on running his own ship is sorely misrepresented) and have recently joined cash and carry retail clubs is the biggest symbol sector of growth, don’t you think?

The new retail club figures are hidden in the general symbol figures issued by IGD.

Scanning the trade press in recent weeks, it has been more than noticeable that cash and carries are giving independent retailers an opportunity to obtain “symbol” benefits and that more independents are signing up. These benefits may not be as comprehensive as those provided by the conventional delivered model. But should the word “symbol” be replaced by “club”?

RING-A-DING-DING. The Belfry was again the scene of the most important and significant conference of recent times. The Federation of Wholesale Distributors, as usual, pulled out all the stops and gave delegates fantastic value for money, entertainment and, importantly, fresh and newsy views from the top in every presentation.

Judging from the mass of press cuttings, it was Michael Hutchings, the top competition lawyer, who grabbed the imagination of the journalists present with his refreshing and un-stuffy style.

Delegates were given the best ever conference rundown of the complexities of Big Four regulation for free.
Michael, you were so refreshing that wholesalers take back everything they have thought (and said) about your profession and those references to ticking clocks.

BLUENOTE. Those readers who care about Vigilante’s state of mind in the new Psycho era – don’t go in that shower – are agreed. Penalty king Patrick Vieira must be City’s new Player of the Year, taking over from Gary (Neville to The Goat … goal!).

TONIED. In the last session of Prime Minister’s question time before the general election, Tony Blair “committed” himself to “look at” the Code of Practice for Supermarkets. He said it was a “very serious issue” and that it was important that the code was implemented.

You, dear reader, will make up your own mind about what this signals and to whom. To the worried consumer, anxious about Big Four power, it could be a welcome message. To the Big Four it could mean that New Labour will just “look at it” and that’s it.
But there is another signal. If the Office of Fair Trading in its re-modelled existence is, as we are told, completely independent from Government, what is Blair playing at?
Vigilante believes the OFT cannot totally ignore the Prime Minister and takes this as more of the evidence it requires to press the button for a full-scale review – with a moratorium on all Big Four small store acquisitions until Parliament has decided on the shape of the future market.

INNOVATION. Top conference idea of the year goes to FWD (not again – Ed) for its Have We Got Booze For You session at Drinksummit. Stereotype is not FWD – it’s always willing to take a chance with a new approach to inform delegates.
A panel of four brave men was lined up to take part, quizzed by Angus Donelan, with lots of jokes which looked good in the draft for rehearsal of the impromptu session!
Postcards to the Suntrap of the South please if you have news of a more captivating conference innovation so far this year.

OFTED. You’ve heard of Ofwat. Now we launch Ofted, the verb, invoked by putting a sound idea to the OFT, only for it to be rejected (sorry OFT, only a little harmless satire).
FWD, just like ACS, its associated mates the Women’s Institute and Friends of the Earth, and lots of other bodies, know what it is like to be Ofted.

FWD asked for wholesalers’ cost prices to be compared, proportionately in volume and logistics, with the prices extracted from suppliers by the Big Three And A Half.
Discriminatory prices, which the competition beaks have previously proved are achieved by the giants, are the one and only mother of all imbalances and flaws in the market
structure.

So why has the OFT not welcomed the facilities for the comparison exercise offered by FWD, which now feels Ofted?

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