Dawood Pervez: FWD’s new chairman outlines key 2023 priorities
FWD’s new chairman outlines the key priorities and initiatives to get behind in 2023 as the wholesale sector continues to navigate the many challenges thrown at it
In January, I had the pleasure of taking over as chairman of FWD and building on the excellent work of my predecessor Coral Rose and the FWD Council and Supplier Council to help wholesalers navigate the challenges of what must surely have been a unique period in the Federation’s 104-year history.
While we’re still very much aware of the pressure that inflation, commodity availability, labour shortages and government policy interventions are putting on our sector, my first task has to be to urge my fellow wholesalers to throw their support behind FWD’s renewed priorities for 2023, which look beyond these immediate problems and seek to address longer-term issues that affect us all.
Of these, the most significant is probably the creation of a roadmap to guide the wholesale distribution sector towards meeting its net zero obligations by 2040.
TWO BIRDS, ONE STONE
Each of us wholesalers needs to look at reducing the emissions of our sourcing, storage and distribution operations, but there’s a wider aspect to explore as well and that’s maximising efficiency throughout the supply chain. This isn’t just a sustainability goal; manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and caterers are all facing immense cost pressure, so if we can collectively rationalise our route to market, we’re effectively killing two birds with one stone.
That’s where wholesale can play a massive role in partnership with suppliers. It’s more important than ever they make sure they work efficiently in the market without adding cost, complexity and environmental damage by creating ‘chase the case’ behaviours among our customers. Of course, brands really gain recognition in the market from having as many distribution points as possible, but the route to those distribution points is wholesale. We serve 40,000-plus independent retailers and many hundreds of thousands of independent caterers, as well as public sector contracts, so if you get it right in this channel, your brand will get the distribution points and, therefore, the recognition and loyalty you’re looking for.
The wholesale sector is entirely capable of reaching ambitious sustainability goals if we work together to get this right. We have many advantages, such as our consumer shops local, so is most likely to do it on foot, saving congestion on the road, vehicle emissions and their own costs. They also contribute financially and socially to their local community.
So when we talk about sustainable wholesale, we’re not just looking at the wholesale operations themselves and the process efficiencies to be gained there. We have to consider the efficiency of distribution as a whole and use the logistical network that wholesale offers in a way that reduces cost to consumers, while also driving us towards those net zero targets.
There’s a second workstream where I would like to see us all working together for a common benefit and, like sustainability, it’s another pillar of the ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) strategy that many of the supplier companies we work with have high on their agenda. It’s around attracting, retaining, challenging and rewarding the widest possible range of talent into our industry and, specifically, into wholesalers. This is something FWD will lead on this year, and again it’s an initiative I urge both wholesalers and suppliers to support.
There is a place within wholesalers’ operations for all kinds of skills and specialisms and it’s important we stress that your effort goes directly into results you can see. It’s a gratifying place to work once you get addicted to that relationship between input and output.
I’m really pleased to say that it feels like this is the channel to be in, and that’s the message we need to get across to the talent pool out there. They may not have heard of wholesale distribution, but it’s a big industry and one where people can make their mark fast.Dawood Pervez Environment FWD chairman FWD column net zero recruitment Skills and Development sustainability talent