Pub growth is in firm’s sights

New appointment signals next step in expansion plans

• Bell spent 29 years at Tennent’s.

GLASGOW-based wholesaler JW Filshill is aiming to grow its presence in the independent free-trade following the appointment of a new business development manager.
The firm has recruited industry veteran Stuart Bell, who spent 29 years at Tennent’s, with the remit of building the firm’s on-trade customer base, initially in the central belt. Reporting to  Filshill group commercial director Chris Miller, Bell will work alongside established team member Leonard Maguire, who has been with Filshill for a decade.
Bell left Tennent’s in 2014 following the company’s acquisition of wholesaler Wallaces Express. He has spent the past two years working outside of the industry.
He told SLTN that his remit will “initially be the independent free on-trade – everything from pubs, clubs, hotels, restaurants and nightclubs that are privately owned”.
He also acknowledged the challenges facing the trade moving into 2017.
“I would say the independent free-trade is shrinking,” said Bell.
“We all know the reasons for that. It kicked off with the smoking ban, then the reduction in the drink-driving limit. The industry is very regulated now.
“The cake we’re targeting every year is getting marginally smaller and smaller.
“What I would say about Filshill in the limited time I’ve been here is our pricing is very good, our customer service is very good, and that’s something I like to focus on.”
Bell’s appointment is the company’s latest step to grow its on-trade business. In 2014 it acquired Largs-based wholesaler Lawrence McQueen Wine & Spirits Merchants and has grown its craft beer offer through the Craft Beer Clan of Scotland – an initiative focused on building export business for Scottish craft brewers.
Filshill’s Chris Miller said Bell’s appointment will “help us grow our existing on-trade business and diversify into complementary areas utilising our expertise and logistics network”.