Highest rate of growth in wholesale for a decade

The highest rate of growth for a decade was achieved by the grocery wholesale sector in 2006, according to the annual report by the research body IGD.

Its UK Grocery Foodservice Wholesaling report, said overall sales in the grocery wholesaling market grew 4.1% to pound;17.5bn, compared with growth of just 0.6% the previous year, and an average of 1.6% over the past 10 years.

The delivered wholesale sector remains smaller than the cash and carry sector, at pound;8.1bn compared with pound;9.4bn, but achieved much higher growth of 7.7% compared with 0.2%.

However, the report classifies all of a wholesalers’ business as either cash and carry or delivered, based on which sector it does the bulk of its business in, so deliveries by “cash and carry” companies such as Booker are included in the cash and carry figures. This suggest the true level of delivered wholesale is even closer to that of cash and carry.

For the first time the report also covered the Foodservice sector, estimating that delivered foodservice was worth pound;6.2bn, giving a combined total for grocery and foodservice wholesaling of pound;23.7bn.

The report’s author, IGD senior business analyst Patrick-Mitchell Fox, said a number of factors had contributed to the exceptional growth figure, with several major companies such as P H McLane and MBL having good years and factors such as the World Cup and a hot summer helping to boost the impulse sector.

He questioned whether such a level of growth could be sustained, but he pointed out that the turnaround under way at Booker could provide a major boost for the cash and carry sector.

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