Well, where have the last three years gone? It’s hard to believe such a long period of time has passed since I wrote my first Chairman’s blog. What started as a two-year stint for me was extended to three when I was honoured to be asked to stay for an extra year.
Now this is my last column before I hand over the baton to my successor. I am delighted that Andrew Selley from Bidvest has been appointed to this role, by unanimous agreement of the FWD Council.
I always knew it would be a hard task following Guy Farrant from Booker and so it proved, but I can look back on my time with great pride and satisfaction.
The profile of FWD is as high as it has ever been and we have a record number of suppliers as associate members, along with many sell-out events and high quality agendas and speakers.
I must place on record my thanks to James, David and Nikki for their fantastic work down in Eastbourne which makes FWD such a great organisation producing real effective results for its wholesale members and our suppliers. They have made my life a lot easier with their dedication and support.
An idea which originated from Chris Etherington from Palmer & Harvey is now proving to be a great success in the way suppliers and wholesalers are working better together and this has come from the new supplier council and the supplier council working groups. James and I relaunched these forums at the start of my tenure and I’m very proud of the work that they have done.
Over my three years as chairman we have also set up the successful How to Win in Wholesale programme, and commissioned several pieces of research into our market and our customers. We have seen FWD become a respected voice for wholesale in Westminster, and in the wholesale world too. The fact that our annual Gold Medals presentation now attracts almost twice as many guests as it did five years ago demonstrates how much our profile within the industry has risen. And we have diversified too, bringing in new members from the foodservice side to reflect our expanding influence.
Wholesale remains a tough place to operate, with wafer thin margins, but working together gives us all an opportunity to grow and prosper, and then increase profit.
There will be plenty of challenges ahead for all of us but we are in a good position to argue our case and ensure that our sector remains fit and healthy. We have £30 billion of turnover between us and we must continue to use this strength to fight for what is right in our sector.
My personal thanks to all of you for your help and support in my FWD role over the last three years.
I’m sure that you will also be aware that my 33 years at Landmark comes to an end on 31st December. It was a tough decision but one that gives me flexibility and choice for the remaining years of my working career. I do hope that I can stay in this sector and industry, albeit in a very different role. I have made many friends over the years and hope that these friendships continue into the future.
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