Six of the best who support wholesalers

This year has been a particularly tough one for the wholesale channel, but nevertheless more and more suppliers are realising the growth opportunities it offers.

With the World Cup and some hot summer weather, the independent sector had some factors working in its favour in 2006, so it was always going to be hard to top that performance in 2007. But with July, one of the most important months in the year, literally being a wash-out this year, and also seeing the introduction of the ban on smoking in public places in England, the wholesale channel has had to work particularly hard for its sales.

There have been positive developments during 2007, however, and one of those has been the greater engagement between cash and carries and delivered wholesalers and their suppliers. When wholesalers’ entrepreneurial skills are combined with the market expertise of suppliers both parties can see substantial gains.

One of the most obvious examples of suppliers supporting the wholesale channel has been the growing number of companies becoming involved in the Federation of Wholesale Distributors’ My Shop is Your Shop campaign, and in particular the support they gave to National Independents’ Week.

While many trade associations and pressure groups have, quite understandably, been protesting about the unfair tactics of the major multiple retailers, MSYS has instead been a positive campaign highlighting the unique benefits an independently owned shop can provide to its local community. Each year the campaign has grown in stature and next year’s National Independents’ Week from June 2-8 promises to be the biggest yet.

Three of the companies that are actively involved in MSYS are featured this year’s What’s in Depot. Imperial Tobacco has faced a particularly tough year with the introduction of bans on smoking in public places in Northern Ireland, Wales and England. But its experience of bans in other markets, and continually adapting its range to the changing market, means it is looking forward to the future with confidence.

The unseasonal weather in July hurt bottled water sales, but Nestl eacute; Waters is expecting growth in 2008 and will be one of the brands offering money-off coupons as part of National Independents’ Week. Foster’s EMEA has been a strong supporter of MSYS and in this feature highlights the opportunities presented by its Penfolds brand.

Whyte Mackay has also been stepping up its engagement with the wholesalers, developing a sales team devoted to the channel, and has been rewarded by substantial growth in distribution. Another drinks company, Magners, has helped to revive the cider category, with wholesalers providing distribution, and Kellogg’s has overhauled its range for the independent sector.

All these companies are positive examples of how suppliers, wholesalers and their customers can all benefit from a close working relationship.

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