An eye to the future can keep fridges full

Wholesalers underline the importance of planning ahead for busy seasons

Forward-planning is key for Scottish wholesalers as they aim to help operators make the most of seasonal trading opportunities.

ANTICIPATION and sharp response times have been cited as two qualities that mark out a successful relationship between wholesalers and operators.

Wholesale firms contacted by SLTN said advanced preparation and a comprehensive range of services are now expected as standard by on-trade customers.
Brian Calder, managing director at Wallaces Express, said in the current economic climate, it’s important that operators receive the best service possible from their wholesaler.
He highlighted multiple delivery days, quick reactions to emergency orders and the ability to provide extra transport if required as services which are designed to help licensees.
“Operators appreciate a ‘one stop shop’,” said Calder.
“If you can get all you need from a wholesaler it makes life so much easier at the busy times, one delivery, one invoice. Also when you need that emergency delivery, it is good to know that your wholesaler can respond quickly at short notice.”
Last month’s spell of unusually hot weather brought its own set of challenges for wholesalers.
But Donald Campbell, sales director at Inverarity Morton, said the heatwave only reinforced the importance of forward planning.
“We always plan ahead, changing our product mix in line with the seasons,” said Campbell.
“While we’ve had better weather than anyone ever anticipated over the last month, it’s really not affected us in any adverse way because of good forward planning on the part of our buying team.
“The summer is always a pressurised period for our distribution team but we gear up for it by employing more short-term staff so the customer sees no difference in their service.”
And Campbell is confident that the trade is in good shape to capitalise on the rest of the summer, regardless of the weather.
“The festival season is already underway in Edinburgh, with the British Open having taken place last month, and we’re expecting operators in the city to enjoy a bumper summer,” he said.
“Evidence is that the city centre food and drink sector is thriving, certainly overall sales are building and are likely to hit a peak mid-August.”
Calder said that, despite the economic challenges, operators making an extra effort are continuing to prosper.
“The trade is doing OK in the current economic climate,” he said.
“Publicans are working hard in their businesses to attract custom. It is not an easy time but licensees who work hard and invest in their operation are seeing positive results.”
And it’s not just the central belt that is prospering.
David Sutherland, managing director of Highland delivered wholesaler Sutherland Brothers, said the on-trade in the region is performing better than some might think.
“In the northern part of Scotland, where we operate, things are not as bad as often portrayed in the media,” said Sutherland.
“Established publicans and hoteliers do a great job, and most have weathered the storm that began in 2007.
“Newer operators find things more challenging, however, and require good business acumen and access to affordable credit facilities to make a successful go of things.”
Sutherland also underlined the importance of forward planning, stating that his company will begin working on its Christmas promotions early next month, with a view to stocking up its product range in October.
“Normally things will be a bit slow to start, but as December approaches we will get steadily busier,” added Sutherland.
“The last week before Christmas things get a little frantic but still manageable.”

Image – Forward-planning is key for Scottish wholesalers as they aim to help operators make the most of seasonal trading opportunities.