Unitas connects wholesalers and suppliers for partnership awards

Parfetts, RD Johns and Wilds Premier Drinks Distributor were the big winners at last night’s Unitas Connect Awards, winning the Retail, Foodservice and On Trade Wholesaler of The Year 2023 titles

Pricecheck International Brand Partners took home both the Standard / Specialist Wholesaler of the Year and the award for Digital Innovation.

Unitas’ annual celebration of its members’ and suppliers’ achievements over the previous year took place during connect24, the group’s biggest ever trading event, held at the Liverpool Exhibition Centre. More than 650 people attended the award dinner which was hosted by Deal or No Deal and Dancing on Ice presenter Stephen Mulhern.

The presentations have been renamed the Connect Awards for this year, to emphasise successful partnerships with the Unitas Support Centre and the services it offers to wholesalers and suppliers.

Other wholesaler winners included Lomond the Wholesale Food Company in the Environmental and Sustainability category.

The evening’s only individual award, Members’ Employee of the Year, went to Dee Bee Wholesale’s Impulse Buyer, Lewis Dyson.

Described as a rising star by his company, the judges said Lewis “demonstrates the skills and ability to thrive as an innovative leader in wholesale, and a comprehensive understanding of what makes our sector unique.”

Among the suppliers rewarded for their work with Unitas members were Heineken UK, which won both the Licenced and On Trade Supplier of the Year awards. KP Snacks received the Impulse Supplier trophy and the prize for Grocery Supplier of the Year went to Nestlé Food and Beverages.

The evening also saw special recognition given to four stalwarts of the wholesale sector, Jason Stocker of Nestle, Steve Pugh of Heineken UK, Arthur Yule of Ceuta and Jitu Dattani of Dhamecha.

Unitas MD John Kinney told the attendees: “It’s been amazing to have more than 800 people in the halls today, doing deals, discovering new lines and making new connections.

“Tonight’s awards celebrate the best of last year’s connections – it’s these partnerships between our members, our suppliers and the brilliant team we have in our Support Centre that set the template for success in wholesale.”

Connect24 The Unitas Trade Show saw more than 800 people visit 150 exhibitor stands the largest attendance since Unitas was formed. Suppliers offered exclusive show-only deals to the Unitas members present.

The evening’s raffle and auction raised over £23,000 for Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice in Doncaster.