Wholesaler investment in the future is at near record levels, according to the FWD chairman Rodney Hunt.
He told the FWD Annual Conference that contrary to stories in some sections of the press, which suggested wholesaling and its customers were on the verge of extinction, the sector was thriving.
“Independent wholesalers of my acquaintance are not an endangered species. In fact they are just the opposite,” he said.
“Most independent businesses are operating successfully and – particularly in wholesaling – investing in the future at levels rarely seen before.”
However, he warned: “This is not to say that the marketplace in which we operate is anything other than aligned in favour of the large corporations. Your Federation is at the forefront of the campaign to introduce fair trading and a level playing field into the food and drinks market.
“But we must emphasise that any protection the Federation seeks is not protection from fair competition, but from the abuse of power by dominating elements and all the results from abuse which cascade down into the retail and catering marketplace.”
He said the independent retail and catering trade, comprising nearly half a million small Features > Business, depended on wholesalers.
“Strong wholesalers are the key to sustainability of vast numbers of independent businesses which is why your Federation continues to fight for commercial justice.
“If the strength and solidity of the wholesale industry is eroded by the loss of wholesaling turnover to giant corporations, then the first victims will be those consumers who rely on independent retailers.”
For these reasons, he said, it was vital that wholesalers focus on making their businesses profitable and invest in making them more efficient.
“Wholesalers are keeping an eye on their costs continuously and increasing their efficiencies in every part of the wholesaling mechanism. I am convinced that suppliers and customers have never before in the history of the market enjoyed the levels of least-cost efficiency which we as wholesalers provide them.
l Rodney Hunt was elected Chairman for the fourth consecutive year at the annual general meeting held at the conference. For more about the conference see page 29.