AF Blakemore distribution centre, Bedford

Happy Christmas for Blakemore with changes ahead

A prosperous Christmas is leading AF Blakemore into a transitional new year – with a sales increase of 18% recorded for the four weeks ending 2 January 2022.

The wholesaler welcomed the encouraging numbers despite talk of supply issues in the sector and were aided by effective planning and additional capacity generated from its new distribution centre in Bedford.

The figures come at a key time for AF Blakemore, with Group Managing Directors Geoff Hallam and Jerry Marwood both preparing to retire at the end of the 2022 financial year and in May 2023 respectively.

“Much of the sector had forecast a challenging operating period with predictions of supply chain failures impacting availability and the ongoing Covid pandemic affecting staffing levels,” said Group Chairman Peter Blakemore.

“Without doubt, Covid continues to impede colleague availability however by investing and putting importance on our people capability, it has enabled us to continue to operate as normal despite Covid-related absenteeism, which were similar to peak pandemic levels.

“Christmas stock management required tactical stock builds, centralisation of supply and backhaul for our suppliers, but inbound supply is still sitting six-percentage points below outbound.

“With our highest recorded case volume on New Year’s Eve and a forecasted 20% growth in sales by the end of the financial year, we need suppliers to invest in mitigating these issues to improve availability.”

Marwood will take over the Group CEO responsibilities on a temporary basis when Hallam retires in April, focusing on the acceleration and delivery of the five-year business plan, before implementing his succession plan in 2023.

“Geoff [Hallam]’s contribution to the AFB business has been substantial and I would like to thank him for his dedication and commitment during his time with us and wish him every happiness in his retirement,” said Blakemore.

“I’m delighted that Jerry [Marwood] will be appointed to the CEO role continuing to manage the planned transition and steering the company’s strategic direction.  The coming months will see further senior appointments as we structure our business in line with our long-term strategy.”

AF Blakemore Christmas covid-19 Geoff Hallam Jerry Marwood Peter Blakemore wholesaler