Blueheath looks at membership

Blueheath is now a member of four wholesale buying groups following its purchase of Key Lekkerland member AC Ward Son at the beginning of November.

The delivered wholesaler was already a Landmark member when in March it bought CTM, a member of both Sugro and Today’s.

Blueheath CEO Douglas Gurr admitted it was a highly unusual situation, as buying groups do not usually allow membership of rival groups.

He said: “There is clearly some tension among the groups. We will be discussing the situation with them shortly and we may be able to make a further statement about the situation then.”
Blueheath paid £3m for the lease of AC Ward’s depot, and its associated assets, with a further £1m depending on sales performance. The freehold of the site and the cash and carry depot at Sudbury have been retained by AC Ward Holdings. AC Ward managing director James Ward has also joined the Blueheath board.

Until now Blueheath has used spare capacity at British Bakeries to make its deliveries, but AC Ward has its own fleet of lorries. Gurr said they were already working on fleet efficiency by moving some existing Blueheath customers in the AC Ward territory over to AC Ward delivery and transferring some outlying AC Ward customers over to deliveries by British Bakeries.

Blueheath has state-of-the-art stock control systems and Gurr said it had been able to reduce CTM’s stockholding by around £2m and he hoped for a similar saving when the system was introduced at AC Ward’s depot.

At the same time as the acquisition Blueheath announced its turnover for the six months to August 27 was £52.3m. AC Ward’s expected turnover this year is £55m.

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