Economic contribution

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Wholesale distributors make combined annual profits of around £860 million and generate approximately £460 million for the exchequer each year. As responsible distributors of alcohol and tobacco products, they return millions of pounds in duty to the Treasury.

The industry employs 66,000 people in the United Kingdom. Accounting for part time workers, this is equivalent to around 51,000 full time jobs. This makes it a bigger employer than newspaper publishing, TV and radio production, and the passenger rail transport industry.

In its report Delivering Employment, Capital Economics estimates that the wholesale distribution industry generates £2.8 billion of gross value added annually, which is equivalent to 0.2 per cent of all economic activity.

Each worker generates over £42,000 of value added each year. This is almost 40 per cent above the average for wholesale and retail activities generally (£30,400) and is also higher than the average for non-financial service industries (£39,600).

Wholesale distributors spent around £26 billion on purchases from their suppliers in 2013, supporting 123,000 British jobs in businesses in the supply chain; over 60 per cent of these jobs were in manufacturing businesses and contributing to the government’s objective of rebalancing the economyCompared with the share of all jobs nationally, wholesale distribution is more concentrated in some of the less prosperous regions of the UK, with higher proportions of jobs in Scotland, the North West and Wales, and less in London and the South East. 

Capital Economics also estimates that there are around 540,000 retail jobs and 350,000 food service/catering jobs in businesses supplied with goods provided by the wholesale distribution industry



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