Fresh food offering needs improvement

Wholesalers were told they needed to improve their fresh food offerings by David Gilroy, business integration controller of Bestway. He said: “I’ve looked at our own chilled ranges and those of other wholesalers. There is no doubt that we come up short in the chilled categories.”

Gilroy said the ability of the multiples to supply fresh food was a big threat, specifically chilled goods and produce with a 14-day life or less.

“As part of our Batleys integration work we conducted a survey with over 200 customers. In our questionnaire we asked them about their attitudes to fresh food. Their responses clearly indicated a risk adverse approach – particularly to product with less than 14 days shelf life. Often we can set up a store with a decent fresh food range only to find that weeks later the same space is filled with soft drinks and alcohol.”

He illustrated best practice with a Best One store that had stuck at the fresh food. The owner incurred waste but after three months he had built a substantial fresh food business.

Gilroy said he could see an opportunity for independent stores to beat the multiples’ convenience stores on service, “Local management has very little say in selecting or amending the product assortment. This is where small independent stores can score. They are not constrained in the same way and so can stock any item required by their customers.”

He added that independent stores can benefit from a deep understanding of the local community and that there is no substitute for on the ground local knowledge.

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