As assessment of the wider economic climate and the challenges facing the wholesale sector was delivered by Andrew Thewlis, finance director of Landmark Wholesale.
He warned that the economic problems affecting the UK and the global economy would take several years to clear, meaning that they would affect businesses well into the future.
Turning to the wholesale sector, he said: “I think duty fraud is the biggest single threat to the wholesale sector at the moment. It is a major problem. It is attacking footfall in our members, and at a time when the government needs every penny it is hitting their coffers too, which in time will feed through and affect us all.”
He also warned that in a time of recession people with well established principles were finding those principles sorely tested.
He said that beer and wine suppliers needed to look at their policies and think about the long-term value of their brands, and he asked: “Why can’t they work with Customs and wholesalers to stop the trade and check legitimacy. I don’t understand why that can’t be done?”
He also reminded wholesalers that if they were offered “unbelievable never to be repeated deals”, not to be tempted by them and to think of the longer-term future of the industry.
The FWD had done an excellent job in campaigning with the government, he said, and he called on all wholesalers to back the campaign, and “if necessary talk to local inspectors direct to raise the profile and get our voice heard”.