A call for greater trust and understanding between wholesalers and manufacturers came from Landmark Cash Carry managing director Martin Williams and Coors off-trade sales director Kevin Brownsey.
Both agreed that deflation was a major problem with Brownsey highlighting figures for the premium lager market that showed prices were currently at 92% of 1997 levels. This represented £250m in lost sales, he said.
He suggested that if wholesalers agreed to concentrate on six or seven brand leaders then brewers could work at pack level to provide differentiation from the multiple grocers’ offering. “You trust me not to exploit you and I will give you a differentiated portfolio and I will give you protection from unreasonable long-term price hikes,” he said.
Williams supported the view that wholesalers needed to provide greater brand focus and that one way they could do this was through their store groups: “We need to develop store groups and ourselves, Booker, Nisa-Today’s and Bestway have all done this.”
Brownsey agreed and said his company was looking to work more closely with wholesalers’ retail clubs and initiatives such as Landmark’s Hot House project.