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Pubs matter to wholesale sector

New consultancy aims to improve understanding between suppliers and wholesalers

to more effective dealings between wholesalers and suppliers – and pubs look set to be a major focus of its activities.


Graham Benson, the former Bellevue chief who launched Wholesale Matters with Richard Yates last month, said suppliers too often assume that wholesalers are still dealing solely with independent retailers, despite the on-trade now accounting for a sizeable portion of their sales. “It’s very diffi cult with how suppliers

are structured, in terms of their sales forces,” Benson told SLTN. “They’re very much channel-aligned and quite a number of suppliers don’t really recognise that wholesalers,

NEW business consultancy has been launched to pave the way

whether cash and carry or delivered, are really becoming multi-faceted.” Benson ran Bellevue with his brother

George until selling the business to Bestway Group last year. In his new role, he and Yates will aim to provide advice and guidance to suppliers on how to improve their relationships with wholesale customers.

“In my experience with Bellevue, we

were very strong in the on-trade, but a licensed supplier would send in their off-trade specialist to see us,” Benson said. “If 60% of your business is in the on-trade then the supplier’s really got to be aligned to that as well.” That sales personnel often change jobs as they make their way up the greasy pole can also present issues for

wholesalers, Benson explained. “Wholesale appears to be a stepping stone for good people, and once they’ve been grounded in wholesale or cash and carry they then tend to move onto what’s deemed to be a bigger role looking after the multiples,” he said. “It’s just a lack of customer care and attention.

“The very successful suppliers in the last two to three years have actually invested heavily in people.” In his view, the service provided by suppliers to wholesalers is mixed, with considerable room for improvement. But equally he also reckons wholesalers themselves must do their bit to enhance the relationship. In particular, he said wholesale buyers must broaden their view beyond price

Graham Benson, director of Wholesale Matters.

when it comes to doing deals. “There’s no doubt that negotiating with wholesalers is quite tough,” he said. “They (wholesalers) can be smarter in the way they interface with their customers, through retail clubs, smarter with the promotions they offer the off-trade. “It’s not necessarily about three for a tenner. It’s about more multi-packs going into the off-trade. “The (independent stores) aren’t going to be selling the big boxes that the multiples are.

“The multiples dominate that market, so there must be other ways that we can be much smarter.”



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36 - SLTN - February 17, 2011

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