Forward-thinking wholesalers prepare for evolution

Interim report discussed at FWD Future of Wholesale conference says wholesalers need to be innovative and creative

The findings of an interim report, commissioned by FWD, were shared at the FWD Future of Wholesale conference on 28 June, and revealed that if they want to succeed, wholesalers need to be innovative and think creatively.

The interim Future of Wholesale report, conducted by the University of Kent’s Centre for Future Studies, revealed that wholesalers are underestimating the potential disruption to the sector of a variety of issues, such as Brexit, Amazon and changing consumer demands and, if they want to survive and thrive in a turbulent landscape, they need to stop acting like middle men and innovate.

In the report, Dr Frank Shaw of CFS, said: “Just as retailers will have to define a new model, better suited to the fragmented market they find themselves in, so too there is a compelling need to redefine the meaning of wholesaling and reinvent your business.”

The conference heard from three wholesalers doing exactly that. Darren Goldney, Managing Director of Today’s Group, Dawood Pervez, Trading Director, Bestway and Sarah Whiddett, Head of Insight and Customer Experience, Bidfood, all shared how their companies were preparing for the future. 

Goldney asked whether wholesalers be competing for a larger slice of the pie or baking a bigger pie. He emphasised the need to be both efficient and effective in order to compete in the future, while Pervez urged the sector not to forget the depot in talk of moving forwards. He also highlighted how convenience retailers have the largest number of sites in the UK representing a significant opportunity. Lower rents will result in more shops opening, while new legislation could well drive customers back to their local shops. Whiddett outlined her view of wholesaling in 2040, highlighting clearly the need for wholesalers to evolve and get on board with trends.

FWD’s James Bielby added, “There’s no single blueprint for the future but an understanding of what it looks like, coupled with a genuinely collaborative process between wholesalers, suppliers and customers, can help shape the future of the sector to the benefit of all.”

Read more about The Future of Wholesale FWD Conference in the next issue of Wholesale News, out later this month.

The full FWD Future of Wholesale report will be available in the autumn.

Future of Wholesale FWD research