Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis said he had a much better understanding of the wholesale sector and its importance to the supply chain following his tour of Palmer and Harvey’s Brandon depot in Suffolk.
The 80,000 sq ft facility, which serves more than 8,500 small businesses in Lewis’ constituency and East Anglia, distributes more than 11,000 product lines through a fleet of 49 vehicles. Customers include shops, bars, cafes, sandwich shops and even chemists and cinemas.
The visit was organised by the Federation of Wholesale Distributors, which promotes the wholesale sector to parliamentarians, the media and the public. Lewis said: “There’s no better way of understanding what the sector is and how it works than by seeing it in action at the coal face. It’s given me an understanding of the size and complexity of the wholesale operation and just how many businesses in my constituency it serves.
“That gives me a really strong feeling for the importance of wholesale, why it matters, and where it sits in the food supply chain. By understanding it better we can represent it better and do what we can to help the industry grow.”
Operations manager Graham Leech showed Mr Lewis the depot’s stock picking and route planning systems and explained how each customer’s requirements are accurately met despite the high volume of stock passing through every day. He was impressed by the team’s ability to react to changes in demand due to the weather, and the very low error level in picking and packing. Palmer and Harvey’s group development and strategy director Paul Hagon explained how the company’s 13 depots delivered to 90,000 outlets in the UK. He said: “As the UK’s biggest delivered wholesaler, we were delighted to show Mr Lewis around our Brandon depot, one of a network which serves every postcode, every day.”
James Bielby of FWD said: “Brandon Lewis clearly understands the pressures our members face. He is a great advocate for the sector and feels passionately about many of the issues which FWD is tackling on behalf of members.”