Wholesalers give mixed response to hospitality support measures

Rishi Sunak’s support measures for the UK hospitality sector have been applauded by foodservice wholesalers, although there is continued frustration and disappointment at the lack of sector-specific support for wholesalers who have been hard hit by the crisis.

“We welcome today’s budget and the 15% reduction on VAT will be of great benefit,” said Gavin Millward, MD, Country Fare, a foodservice wholesaler based in Bournemouth.

“The discounted eating out scheme is quirky and the impact may not be huge but it’s a great confidence booster and running it Monday to Wednesday is a stroke of genius. We also welcome the Job Retention Bonus which will provide us with support to keep staff on in the hope that by January we will all be stronger.”

“However, it is disappointing that foodservice delivered wholesale still has had zero support. No grants, no rates holiday and no support for the hundreds of thousands of pounds lost due to stock going out of date. Even worse, it stings to read that Tesco and other multiples benefitted by £8.5m rates relief while we get nothing, particularly as they’ve grown their sales during this time.”

Sam Henderson, MD, Lomond: The Wholesale Food Co in Glasgow, agrees: “The measures put forward by the chancellor are very welcome. However, it is extremely disappointing that the front end of the hospitality sector has been given so much support while the supply chain, which has been equally hard hit, has been completely ignored.

“Surely a targeted rates cut for wholesalers into the hospitality sector would have been justified and would have protected jobs and diversity within the supply chain? The chancellor needs to do something for wholesalers or there will be many casualties over the coming year.”

Tom Gittins, MD of Confex is also in agreement: “It is regrettable that Rishi Sunak continues to ignore the wholesale sector and the support we need to continue to provide the wheels for the UK food supply chain.

“Both the hospitality and retail sectors continue to receive government aid while the local wholesaler has fallen through the cracks regarding the financial help needed to survive post-lockdown.

“As an industry we, along with many MPs, have continually asked for business rates relief so we can minimise job losses within the sector. We only ask for the same support afforded to our customers to ensure the UK food supply chain remains intact.”

The FWD is continuing to work with government to push for wholesalers to receive the same measures as their hospitality and retail customers, specifically business rates relief.

budget Confex coronavirus Country Fare Foodservice Gavin Millward Government hospitality Lomond Sam Henderson Tom Gittins wholesale