Westminster, London

FWD’s Final Word: Election fever

So, a new government then…

Yes! Although as we’re having this conversation before the election, we don’t know which party is in charge – and we’re not going to risk taking a guess at this stage.

Does it make a difference to wholesalers?

A radical political agenda could pose a threat. But our members are agile enough to adapt to changes in policy, as long as they have a clear indication of the government’s goals and a fair voice in shaping and implementing legislation. That’s where FWD comes in. We’ve identified six particular demands we think are absolutely crucial to the development of the wholesale sector.

Let me guess, Brexit?

No surprise there. We believe the sector would be best served by a comprehensive, frictionless trade deal after Brexit, which keeps tariffs or trade barriers to a minimum and an immigration policy that acknowledges the importance of lower-medium skilled workers for the sector.

What about wage costs?

We want the least-well paid to receive a fair wage but if the National Living Wage rises too high too quickly it’s hard to absorb the extra cost, which means either higher prices for our customers or a reduction in headcount.

Should we expect action on distribution’s environmental impact?

It’s bound to be high on the agenda. Packaging in particular is under the microscope. We’re concerned that a poorly thought-out extension of Producer Responsibility will severely affect the profitability of wholesalers. The Deposit Return Scheme in Scotland is proving a nightmare to introduce and while supporting its intention, we’re calling for a UK-wide solution and a sensible timetable to avoid chaos on both sides of the border.

Food and drink?

Our top priority is a central database for allergen information and an enforceable mandate for suppliers to keep it updated. Now foodservice operators have to make comprehensive allergen information available to their customers, a mandatory database is the only way to ensure data is current and correct.

We’re also concerned alcohol-duty fraud and soft-drinks levy evasion will increase under a new relationship with Europe. It’s the reputable wholesalers who lose out if illicit product gets through to retailers.

Talking of crime…

There’s always been a certain amount of crime against wholesalers, particularly opportunistic thefts from customers in cash and carry car parks. Under-resourced police forces struggle to prioritise these incidents for detection and prosecution, and perhaps don’t fully appreciate the societal damage of stolen tobacco and alcohol sold cheaply to minors. We need the Home Office and the police to react quickly and firmly to criminal activity of this kind.

So what happens now?

We get in touch with the new ministers responsible for these areas, congratulate them and request a meeting to discuss how their government can support our industry and the thousands of businesses it supplies and supports.

Boris Johnson FWD General Election Westminster wholesaler