Bielby: Wholesaling offers suppliers a world of potential

Wholesaling adds value to the economy, funds to the Exchequer and provides employment to tens of thousands of people, and is way ahead of the government in building a “Northern Powerhouse”.

So said FWD chief executive James Bielby in his opening address at the 2015 FWD Conference, held at the St George’s Centre in Burton-on-Trent. Referencing the FWD’s groundbreaking The Whole Story report from last November, he said: “Our industry pays £460m in direct tax, generates billions in revenues and our employees are among the most productive in the UK – generating £42,000 a year each, way above the national average, we help keep the High Street and hundreds of thousands of SMEs alive, and thriving.”

Bielby said a great deal had been achieved, but more had to be done.

“Work is still going on, and will continue to do so under the new Government,” he said. “We will continue to tell FWD members’ stories and representing and promoting wholesale.

“Our key areas of focus will be regulation, food health issues, parliamentary receptions and running depot visits for MPs. FWD has been a lone voice on alcohol fraud since 2009 and it is now, thanks to our lobbying, a high priority for the Government, with the AWRS, a tightening-up of bonded warehouse  regulations and the extra resources allocated in HMRC announced in this month’s Budget. 

“These are big wins but we will do more. Our members have more than 400,000 points of contact with consumers,” he said, adding that this access offered huge opportunities to suppliers and brands looking to grow, particularly in foodservice.

“Foodservice is key to the future. There are more care homes than independent c-stores, offering growth potential way beyond what the multiples can offer. Consumers aren’t interested in channels, they want the products [they desire]at a time and place they want. With our 800 depots and DCs, 200,000 deliveries a week and 7,350 dedicated vehicles, FWD members can do just that.

“I urge everyone to read the report if they haven’t done so already, and tell your colleagues: wholesale is an opportunity for people, and brands, to grow.”

“For the first time ever, we have sold out of our Conference before the event,” added FWD chairman Martin Williams. “We have filled this as well as two other hotels and have had fantastic support from our members and supplier partners.

These are very exciting times, there is a great deal of positivity around our industry right now.”

For full coverage of the FWD Conference – see the July issue of Wholesale News – out next week.

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