Is the wholesale sector ready for wholesale change? This year’s FWD conference will go Fast Forward to the future of the channel.

Wholesalers, suppliers, service providers, economists and futurologists will give their visions of our evolving sector, and share their advice for grasping opportunities as this dynamic route to market moves into a new era.

Dr Frank Shaw is leading a brand new research project entitled The Future of Wholesale. Commissioned by FWD, this will take in economic, technological and consumer behaviour trends to provie what Frank describes as “ideas and constructs for changing their businees so they are not consumed by forces that might blow them away.”

Mark Pragnell leads the team at Capital Economics which has produced FWD’s Whole Society report. This looks at the economic and social impact of wholesalers in the UK. Mark will also consider the impact of economic factors on the sector, including Brexit.

James Bielby, Chief Executive of FWD, co-ordinates industry responses to legislation and Government policy. He will examine the current Government’s agenda and analyse how it will affect FWD members over the next 12 months.

To discuss the implications of the above we have Martin Race of Bestway, Tanya Pepin of The Whole Sale Company,  John Mills of Landmark Wholesale, and Meadow Foods’ Mark Chantler.

After lunch it’s over to three wholesalers to talk about the future for their specialisms. Darren Goldney of Today’s Group will look at what’s next for buying groups; Dawood Pervez of Bestway will examine the evolution of cash and carry; and Bidfood’s Sarah Whiddett will look to the horizon for foodservice distribution. David Gilroy will join them to discuss challenges and solutions.

Jill Livesey of him! looks at customers needs and wants from their wholesale and supplier partners with the unveiling of the Wholesale Tracking Programme, which gathers the opinions of retailers and caterers, and provides the insight for selecting the winners of the him! Wholesale Awards, presented in the evening after the conference.

Karen Ward is an expert in organisational structure, people and learning & development.  Karen has worked with the world’s largest companies to advise them on how to optimise performance based on people analytics. She shares her knowledge of what makes organisations tick, and her experience of advising retailers on how to get the best from their teams.

We end with the an analysis of the themes emerging from the day with former FWD President Steve Parfett and Hazel Detsiny of Unilever Food Solutions joining James Bielby and Karen Ward in a discussion led by Daniel Finkelstein, Times Columnist and member of the House of Lords, with questions from the audience.

The customers’ choice

After the business sessions we have drinks reception followed by dinner, during which we’ll show the England World cup game. Then the main attraction, the HIM Wholesale Awards, which are voted for by retailers and foodservice operators.