FWD column November 2018: Andrew Selley
As the wholesale sector braces itself for Brexit, FWD’s chairman argues that it’s just the latest in a long line of challenges the industry is facing – and we should be focusing on the positives that the future holds instead
After a year dominated by the looming shadow of Brexit, it’s tempting to assume that the wholesale industry is facing a challenge like never before. But I often wonder if that is really true.
Formed in the last days of The Great War, the Federation we now call FWD has come through a century of economic and social upheaval – World War II, the three-day week, at least two stock market crashes and a banking collapse. And here we are, still supporting retailers and caterers across the nation, and still providing a vital service to communities, schools, hospitals, the social care sector and the hospitality industry.
We should have no reason to believe that this industry will not cope with the impending changes as well as it has with the challenges of the past.
We have the advantage of the experience and skill of dedicated people, bringing technological advances to the sector and streamlining processes, while maintaining the laser-like focus on the customer that has served us so well over the years. This month’s Gold Medal Awards give a small proportion of these people the recognition they deserve.
The success of this sector is entirely due to individuals like those we celebrate at Old Billingsgate in
London on 29 November, from all disciplines and levels of seniority, who have invested their drive and
enthusiasm in the wholesale channel. In return, it’s our responsibility to invest in them.
FWD’s Fellowship Fund, set up half the Federation’s lifetime ago, has provided bursaries totalling more than £50,000 in the past three years to help our members train and develop their teams.
Our training seminars in members’ depots have helped hundreds of suppliers understand our channel, and our conferences and category-focus events create the networks through which individuals come together to form teams and partnerships.
While we will take a moment to recognise the achievements of the generations of wholesalers that have gone before us, this evening is about those who will lead us into a second century of success, built on our willingness to recognise, incentivise and reward our most talented people. And it’s these people and their willingness to lend their skills and energy to the industry that needs to be harnessed.
Please join me on 29 November to congratulate all our winners for their fantastic contribution over the past year.