My pleasure at writing my first column as the newly-installed chief executive of the Federation of Wholesale Distributors is tempered by the fact that it means John Murphy is no longer a full-time colleague at the FWD.
John’s advice and guidance have been invaluable to me since I joined the FWD in March, and he will be missed by all who have had the privilege of working with him over the years.
I know I speak for all in the trade and beyond in wishing John a very long, happy and healthy retirement.
The last three months have been fascinating and great fun and I have learned a great deal about both the wholesale sector in general, and the workings of the Federation in particular, from the many people I have encountered.
It is a fantastic organisation, doing outstanding work in representing the sector to Government, for example to HMRC on issues like duty fraud on alcohol, as well as offering a unique forum for wholesalers to come together to tackle areas of non-competitive mutual concern.
One such area is security at cash and carry depots, which is worryingly prevalent. A group supported by all members has been formed to look at the issue, with some joint work already taking place warning customers to be on their guard and helping them to shop safely.
Alongside that, there is the FWD-branded series of events such as the conference, Catersummit and Drinksummit and the annual dinner and gold awards, all of which are long-established staples of the wholesale calendar.
And initiatives like My Shop is Your Shop and the Take Home Blueprint on Alcohol help raise the FWD’s profile among suppliers and retailers.
It is clear the FWD has many strengths and the work it does is a testament to the team at Eastbourne. Operationally, the Federation is vibrant and energetic, and is indispensible to the sector, with a visible presence as the champion of wholesale distribution.
But part of the exciting challenge of taking on this new role is to evaluate everything the FWD does in terms of the value and benefits they offer to both members and the wider trade.
So nothing is set in stone, and I have spent the last few weeks talking to members about the work of the Federation, invaluable information which will help shape future direction and strategy.
I’m interested to hear your views on what we do well and what we could do better as well. Email me at email@example.com and let me know.