Judging by our news pages the wholesale sector has certainly started the year in buoyant mood. Despite the harsh economic climate and intense promotional activity from the multiple retailers consumers are clearly turning to their local independent stores in ever increasing numbers and caterers enjoyed a good run-up to Christmas compared to the snow affected festivities last year.
From Sugro, whose members tend to be towards the smaller end of the spectrum, to the biggest players such as Booker and Bestway, the sector is thriving. Most importantly wholesalers are also showing their confidence in the future by making significant investments in their businesses.
Dhamecha has announced its seventh depot, Bestway is developing a new outlet in the North East having recently opened one in Brighton, and Palmer and Harvey will have a new depot north of London ready by the summer. In the foodservice sector margins are particularly tight but Booker obviously believes there is profitable business there and is investing in setting up its new delivered business.
With the tobacco display restrictions set to drive more business into smaller stores, and festivities such as the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics promising a bumper summer, you can see why confidence is high despite the economic climate.
All the more reason then for suppliers to divert more of their spend into this growth sector and ignore the siren calls of the supermarket groups. As Philip Jenkins points out on page six, if suppliers get lured into giving excessive support to the big retailers they risk destablising their best hope of growth in an otherwise depressed market.