Island wholesaler left with little leeway on pricing

GIVEN its remote location and the high cost of transportation it faces, Orkney and Shetland Islands wholesaler JW Gray often has little leeway when brewers put price rises through.

Operations director Iain Johnston told SLTN the latest round of brewery hikes had left it in a “difficult” position.
“We’ve got to be careful what we do in terms of putting prices up before the Budget because it’s obviously a double-whammy,” he told SLTN.
“In general, to maintain margins, we have no option but to pur prices up.”
Johnston explained how the on-costs faced by the firm were exacerbated by the geographical nature of where JW Gray does business; the cost of fuel was £1.47 a litre when SLTN called.
“If you look at Shetland, for instance, we’ve got several major outer islands we’ve got to deliver to,” he said.
“If you look at Unst, the most northerly isle, we’ve got to deliver from Lerwick and take two ferries up to Unst and two ferries back again, so it’s quite costly to get product up as far as that.
“The on-costs are significantly more [than for mainland operators]. Obviously the brewers have got to get stuff up here as well. At the end of the day it can’t be done for nothing – we chose to live on an island and we’ve just got to run with it sometimes.”