Support your local shop – We do
The retail customers

Members of FWD supply and support around 72,000 retail businesses in the UK. We define retailers as companies who buy from wholesalers to sell on to the public. Our members also work with thousands more businesses, charities and societies which purchase food and drink for their own use.

We estimate that our members supply:

30,000 Convenience stores

12,000 are part of symbol groups operated by FWD members

18,000 are unaffiliated independents

3000 CTNs (Confectionery, Tobacco, News)

3,500 Farm Shops

2,500 Garden Centres

1,000 Independent discounters

3,000 Off Licences

11,500 Post Offices

The vast majority of shops in the convenience sector are owned and operated by small businesses. Together, independent retailers make up 74% of the convenience sector. [ACS Local Shop Report, 2017]

Symbol groups are groups of independent retailers trading under a common customer facing brand –brands such as Premier, Best-One and Landmark Express. They combine the buying power of independents in order to negotiate better prices from product suppliers.

Around 58 per cent of food and drink wholesale distributors’ revenue comes from sales to small, independent retailers providing access to food, drink and other goods in every region and devolved nation; we estimate that the activities of the food and drink wholesale distributors supports 537,000 jobs in the wider economy.


It’s not just stock that wholesalers provide to retailers; they support their partners with merchandising advice, sales data, business development plans and beneficial trading terms. Most wholesalers now offer online ordering, click and collect and delivery services.

The retail estate is changing, as more shops add a food to go or eat in option to their offer. Consumers’ expectations are changing, with traditional channels breaking down, the retail and foodservice markets converging, and a new prevalence of ‘everything everywhere’.  Working with their wholesaler, independent business can adapt to the bespoke needs of their customer base, mixing fresh, chilled, ambient, frozen and hot food, to eat in, take away or have delivered.