We’re missing the full picture

BY?JOHN?WOOD

It’s not often anyone in the wholesale sector can celebrate winning a contract worth more than pound;100m a year, so congratulations to DBC Foodservice on doing just that.

As we report on pages 5 and 30, DBC is part of the consortium that has won the worldwide supply contract for the MOD, delivering to 1,200 bases around the world, including war zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as ships and submarines. With DBC in charge of sourcing in the UK, and logistics, it expects that the deal will swell its turnover by pound;100m to pound;120m a year.

Knowing the wafer thin margins that wholesalers work to this is not going to translate into massive profits, but it will certainly raise the profile of a company described by its own managing director as “the quiet man of the trade”.

It will also generate greater interest in the foodservice sector from companies already looking to increase their involvement in it. But if any of these companies want to find out more about the sector, how do they go about it?

Well, if it’s foodservice information there are several sources. Horizons’ database covers the entire sector (see page 32), ACNielsen is renewing its coverage of the catering sector (page 4), and HIM is covering catering customers in cash and carries. For a sector often considered rather backward in the application of new ideas this is all pretty impressive.

But when it comes to wholesalers serving independent retailers, I’m always surprised by a glaring gap in the market. True, ACNielsen can track some sales through independents, and IGD can estimate the overall size of the market, but what happens when a company wants to be benchmarked against its peers?

HIM provides a good service that enables cash and carry companies to benchmark themselves in a number of ways, but what about the overall sector including delivered wholesalers?

Some groups have very sophisticated IT that enables them to cut their sales data in amazing ways, but unless there is a way of comparing their performance with the overall market they will never see the full picture.

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