Ready to look into the future

The industry training and research charity IGD will hold its Wholesaling 2014 event in London this month. Ahead of the event it has made wholesaling sector analysis document, available on its website

THE development of symbol groups by wholesaling companies and the use of new technologies and digital communications in wholesaling will both figure this month in a major industry event organised by expert group IGD.

The grocery and distribution industry education, development and research charity’s Wholesaling 2014 event takes place at London’s Park Plaza Victoria on 11 September.
And it promises a close look at some of wholesaling’s most interesting recent developments plus analysis of likely future trends.
Simon Hannah, managing director of Glasgow-based independent wholesaler JW Filshill and Martin Williams managing director of Landmark Wholesale will both present to the conference as part of the first session, called Wholesaling now and in the future.
The second session concentrates on technological developments and promises insights from one of the sector’s technological innovators, the chief operating officer of award-winning food service wholesaler JJ Food Service, Mushtaque Ahmed, as well as contributions from Boost Drinks executives Simon Gray and Al Gunn.
In the afternoon a special session on The consumer interface will feature Andrew Thompson, commercial director of Booker and Martin Swaddling, Booker’s director of Premier.
Also contributing in the consumer interface section will be Chris Doyle, business development director of Landmark Wholesale, John Kinney, retail director of Today’s Group as well as English Today’s Group retailer Rishi Madhani.
IGD released information, ahead of the event, illustrating some of the most important trends and key recent developments in food and drink wholesaling for retail and hospitality sectors.
In an extensive special analysis called Online ordering: the challenging face of UK wholesale it highlighted the substantial work being carried out by national, regional and local wholesalers to provide online ordering facilities for their customers.
While online ordering has shown very substantial growth in recent years, there could be seen to be benefits and problems in the adoption of digital systems.
IGD estimates the total value of online ordering in wholesale to be £1.7bn or roughly 6% of the market. The organisation reckons the value of online ordered sales is growing 13% year on year.
Online ordering definitely offers customer benefits and development is just about continuous. IGD especially notes the recent development of smartphone apps and hand-held scanners and the new efficiency they have brought to the capturing and uploading of orders.
But it reckons there are both benefits and inhibitors for wholesalers. On the positive side, commercially, delivered wholesalers can find online ordering diminishes the need for resource-hungry telesales services.
But it reckons online ordering adds complexity and cost to cash and carry operations, though some are now offering click and collect services, providing the facility to collect an order in as short a time as two hours.
However, IGD also notes that not all retailers and other customers of wholesalers and cash and carries want to go down a digital route. Some simply like to do things the old, established and understood way. And many want to retain quickly available cash and carry top-up capabilities for seasonal periods and weather-influenced sudden rushes.
In its outline of symbol groups and retail clubs ahead of the Wholesaling 2014 event IGD stresses the link between wholesalers like Booker, Landmark and Today’s and what it calls “the young generation of UK symbol groups like Lifestyle Express, Premier and Today’s that have developed rapidly, especially in the last 10 years, to now have more than 5000 stores, and who have helped bring symbol operations and consumer-focused retailing to entirely new sections of independent retailing.
It also highlights the role of retail clubs in providing regular programmes of promotions to otherwise unaffiliated retailers.

• More details on IGD’s Wholesaling 2014 event, taking place on 11 September is at