Visiting the Today’s Annual Awards Dinner and Exhibition and P H McLane’s Proretail Exhibition and Awards Dinner last month was a heartening experience for anyone involved in the wholesale sector.
Once again the awards highlighted some outstanding wholesalers, and a number of the excellent suppliers working with them. But what impressed me most was how many suppliers were showing genuine interest in the sector.
Talking to suppliers at both exhibitions I was struck by how keen they were to build up partnerships with wholesalers. They recognised that they could develop sustainable relationships with wholesalers that would provide long-term benefits for both parties and for wholesalers’ customers.
Instead of dealing with a new buyer every few months at the multiple grocers, who had little interest or knowledge of their businesses and very short-term goals, they found wholesalers were far more interested in building business for the long term. Another indication of the support from suppliers for the independent sector is the increased number of companies backing the money-off coupons that are a key element of National Independents’ Day on June 1.
Suppliers are showing their commitment to the sector and it is up to wholesalers and their customers to seize the opportunity this event presents.
Since the last NID a little under a year ago support for community shops has been steadily building in the press and among the public. National Independents’ Day is timed perfectly to benefit from that increased focus and draw new shoppers into local stores. But what will be crucial is turning that new shopper into a regular customer and that will only happen if they find the products they want, at the right price, and the kind of friendly local service only our sector can offer.
Service is something only the retailer can control, but when it comes down to availability and pricing it is up to wholesalers and suppliers to work closely together to ensure everyone capitalises on National Independents’ Day.