Thanks to the Olympic and Paralympic Games, this summer will see London and the South East teeming with tourists, competitors and visitors from around the globe.

In particular, the Olympic Road Network (ORN) plans are set to impact a huge number of businesses as certain roads are closed or hit by loading restrictions.

The Federation of Wholesale Distributors has already warned the Transport Select Committee (see page 13) that shops, cafes and restaurants along those routes rely on wholesale deliveries – and that Transport for London (TfL) needs to take a sensible and pragmatic approach rather than “cashing in” with additional penalty fines for wholesale vehicles supplying those businesses, particularly during night deliveries (which are likely to increase in number around the ORN).

The Olympics and Paralympics represent an enormous opportunity for those shops, but only as long as they have products to sell.

Palmer and Harvey alone has some 300 customers directly on the ORN and another 3,000 nearby. Add to those the hundreds of other London and South East businesses who rely on wholesale deliveries; and the scale of the challenge becomes crystal clear. Wholesalers are geared up and ready but it requires serious investment in night-time deliveries and flexibility.

And it’s not just about the capital. Around the UK, the Olympic torch relay is currently visiting dozens of towns, villages and cities across the land, from Inverness and Belfast to Land’s End and Dover. The enormous crowds that surround the torch are another huge opportunity for retailers to boost their sales, combined with a challenge for wholesalers due to road closures and restrictions.

Coming off the back of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, this summer could well be a real kick-start for the UK economy. However, it will only work if smaller shops – those less able to manage when stock fails to arrive on time – have the deliveries they need.

The Games are also set to be a major talking point at the FWD Conference on 12 July, looking at how teamwork throughout the supply chain is as vital as teamwork in any relay race, and it’s important for our customers to know that the wholesale sector is prepared and ready for the starter’s pistol.

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