Wholesalers pulling out all stops to support on-trade
WITH the Christmas and New Year trading period fast-approaching, licensees aren’t the only ones gearing up for a bumper festive season.
Scotland’s wholesalers will again be on the front-line, helping operators plan their festive orders and ensuring deliveries run smoothly.
And those contacted by SLTN said they are once again pulling out all the stops for their on-trade customers.
Although many people will buy in advance, the days of bulk-buying in November are long gone.
Highlighting the ongoing trend for operators to place smaller but more frequent orders to avoid ‘tying up’ cash in stock, Wallaces Express boss Brian Calder said planning is key.
“Because cash flow can restrict the amount of stock customers can buy at one time, we offer to ‘roll up’ purchases at our trade shows and over the festive period so that customers can benefit from the deals and offers from brand owners at this time of year,” said Calder.
“If the customer commits to an order, we hold the stock and allow them to buy it as and when required. This allows the customer flexibility to get access to the right deal without tying up their cash flow.
“By taking the chance to pre-order, customers can rely on Wallaces to deliver stock as required, leaving the publican to concentrate on their own customer knowing that the ‘supply chain’ is sorted.”
Martin Race, operations director of Batleys, agreed that operators are placing smaller but more frequent orders.
And he reckons the trend will continue over the festive season, claiming many bar, restaurant and hotel owners “will not commit to volume until they have a good feel for the likely business”.
“We will try our best to get them to buy ahead, especially as it’s the perfect ‘four weekend’ festive period this year with the 25th [of December] falling on a Wednesday, and although many of them will, the days of bulk-buying in November are long gone,” said Race.
“More and more customers are using their wholesaler as a stock room, which also enables them to manage their spend and cash flow.
“Smaller and more frequent orders are being placed.”
It’s a trend also acknowledged by David Sutherland, managing director of Wick-based wholesaler Sutherland Brothers, who said he expects operators to start stocking up in early December and for orders to build throughout the month.
“Our customers tend to leave it as late as possible, and the week before Christmas will be challenging!” he said.
“Ten years ago it was different, with customers taking the bulk of their delivery in early December and then topping up where required.”
When it comes to what on-trade operators are likely to order for the Christmas trading period, wholesalers expect to see an uplift in premium brands across all drinks categories.
“Christmas is one of those times when people don’t mind indulging – that applies to our social budgets as much as our waistlines,” said Stephen Russell, MD of Inverarity Morton.
If the customer commits to an order, we hold the stock and allow them to buy it as required.
“Our best-selling drinks at Christmas are what you would expect: Champagne and sparkling wine, digestifs, such as Port and sherry, and malt whisky. Something celebratory and special.”
Arran Heal, MD of online wholesaler Ooberstock, predicts a similar sales pattern.
“The top-branded spirits are, as always, important and also craft beers,” he said.
“Our best-selling product categories are wine, spirits and cask/craft beer. We see these as offering superior margins to retailers. These are the focus categories in Ooberstock and we will be driving sales of these as a key part of our Christmas offer.”