Pervez’s plan for success

As Dawood Pervez becomes Bestway’s new managing director, he sits down with Wholesale News to explain his plans for the business’s future

Congratulations on the new role. Was this always in the pipeline?

You never really know anything until it happens. There is no right to management and it’s earned on merit, which was decided by the Bestway Group Chairman, my father [Sir Anwar Pervez] and the Group CEO [Zameer Choudrey] who is my cousin. But I didn’t know until they said this was going to happen.

It’s important to point out that it was always my decision to throw myself into wholesale and I have climbed the ladder to get here. If you look at the Bestway Group businesses, there’s only me out of the family members who has an executive role.

 

Does it add extra pressure that your dad is the boss?

Our personal and business relationships intermingle, so business is always on the agenda – even when at home with my father. Access to his knowledge, experience and values is priceless. While he makes sure that we are all on our toes, in the main he lets us get on with the job. That’s why we have a forward-thinking vision and want to implement new ideas with the use of technology. Just because he always did something a certain way, it doesn’t mean I won’t make changes for the benefit of the business.

 

What do you think you’ll bring to the role?

Wholesale is a very complex trade and, typically speaking, the people involved in leadership in these businesses come from either an ops or trading background. If you haven’t done either, you’re on sticky ground.

I became trading director when Martin Race first became managing director, having worked in other roles around the business previously, heading up legal, HR, L&D, property, HSE and marketing. So I’ve gained experience and was always planning for the position ahead.

 

What will it be like stepping into Martin Race’s shoes?

He’s a larger-than-life figure and has a no-nonsense, straight-shooting approach and has a lot of experience. He’s someone who has been a great asset to the company and the industry, so obviously any brain you lose like his is a shame. But at the same time, I’m excited to bring my own experience and expertise to the role, and to see what new ideas I can implement to continue to improve the business for our customers and generate profitable growth for all.

 

Does this change, within Bestway and elsewhere in the industry, allow you to move in a different direction?

Volatility creates opportunity, that’s the key thing to note. In a steady environment, the status quo remains and that usually means big businesses benefit. We’re entrepreneurs at heart as a business, so it enables us to take advantage of all the change in the industry that’s going on.

We’re not a listed company and are financially very strong, with a major track record in acquiring and managing businesses, and that puts us in a unique position. We’re very agile and can make decisions quickly, so we can look at businesses for their own merits and act immediately.

 

Does that mean Bestway would ever consider consolidation in the future?

We’ve been doing it already. We set back up the former vans operation of Palmer and Harvey, and recruited their senior management. This enables us to reach 20,000 retailers every two weeks and the additional chance for us to push products on behalf of our supplier partners into 20,000 stores.

The former Conviviality Plc adds another dimension to our business, with more than 600 off-licence specialists. We’re a national full-service wholesaler with a symbol group and franchise, company-owned stores, a retail club and we service unaffiliated retailers too. Partnering with such a broad range of retailer types has helped us to become independent retail experts.

 

What do you make of other consolidation in the market?

The Booker–Tesco merger is an interesting one. What you need to remember is that, when you’re part of the country’s biggest multiple retailer, do you get to drive your own destiny? And is the focus on the independent retailer? I’m not sure.

But nevertheless, you’re talking about two formidable businesses coming together and they’re capable of achieving lots of things. Access to Tesco’s toolkit is going to be very interesting for Booker because it means they’ll be able to do things at a much lower cost and if they get access to Tesco cost of goods, that’s absolutely market breaking.

It was inevitable for Landmark and Today’s to come together, and was a good idea to manage costs in the central infrastructure that existed in those two organisations. They have the issue now of managing disparate fascias and limited own label, so it’s now how they’ll aggregate that own label and distribute that.

 

What does the future look like for Bestway?

Our priority is to properly integrate the businesses we’ve bought into our offer. That doesn’t mean into our head offices, but how it all fits in with systems, processes, range and master terms has to flow.

Beyond that, we’re looking at the development of retail and foodservice. This will require a shift towards more deliveries and to do that, we need to be efficient and offer the best service and excellent availability. The next step after that is to offer consolidated multi-temperature deliveries at short notice, and to ensure products have a good date code, which requires an excellent relationship with our suppliers.

In terms of our product mix for retailers, we’ve also been looking at categories as a whole: developing a food-to-go offer and launching own-brand products so retailers can offer a good-better-best proposition.

 

How will that impact depots?

Historically we’ve operated deliveries out of all our depots, but this creates a complex business model and doesn’t always offer the customer the best service, as our depots are trying to be all things to all people. That’s why we’re moving to a more hub and spoke depot structure, with around 30% of our estate focused on deliveries to all delivered and the rest of the sites focused on a specific area fit for their region.

Moving to this new setup will mean replanning vehicle routes and rearranging the depot layout to allow for efficient pick and vehicle loading, which we expect to improve our customer experience.

 

How does this approach fit in with the future of cash and carries?

If most of your retail customers are going for deliveries, the rest left over are usually smaller stores. If they’re not buying their full weekly shops with you, they’re doing top ups on fast-moving basics. So, if they’re doing that, do you need 70- or 80,000 square feet of warehouse space faced up for that?

That liberates space in the warehouse, so you can pivot your focus to have a wider reach. There are lots of fast-food operators, so you can start making an offer for them. We can also look at making an offering for pubs, clubs and bars – that’s less likely to be collect, but they still need great service.

If you can get to the point when you’ve got vans buzzing in and out to do same-day deliveries on certain orders, that’s a real point of difference. Cash and carry isn’t dead, but it has to change.