Service central to a wholesale offer

Firms reckon operators should expect a personal touch from their supplier

• Brexit could bring price fluctuations to the wine market.

AS many customers in the trade will be ushering in new beginnings with a host of resolutions, some to be kept and some to be broken, could now be the time for on-trade operators to reassess their wholesale situation?
If so, it should ultimately depend on service, according to a number of wholesalers working with the Scottish trade, who have given their assessment of what operators should expect from their suppliers in 2017.

We work with our customers to help grow and promote their business.

Daniel Richards, category development manager at ViVAS, the specialist drinks division of Bidvest Foodservice, reckons wholesalers should now be offering a service that goes beyond “simply moving product from A to B in a delivery window” to provide “a full-service offer”.
“We work with customers to help grow and promote their businesses and our role covers ranging advice, insights and marketing support to ensure operators are selling the right beverages to the right customers,” said Richards.
“Wholesalers also hold great relationships with brand owners and can bridge the gap to help bring them to market and give them access to a wider customer base.”
Billy Bell of Wine Importers agreed that wholesalers should be taking on a larger role than simply fulfilling orders.
“I still firmly believe in personal contact,” said Bell.
“In particular I like to hear my well-trained and knowledgeable office staff speaking to customers on the phone, taking orders and answering queries, which is all part of the very personal service we like to offer.”
Ian Cumming, commercial director at Inverarity Morton, agreed that operators should expect person-to-person service from their wholesaler.
“[Operators] should look for a wholesaler with whom they can foster a strong working relationship and it goes way beyond price,” said Cumming.
“Our customers want to know that we can deliver ‘value for money’ so that applies to the depth and breadth of the product range, the customer service they experience from point of ordering to delivery, and the support they receive from their account manager in terms of tailoring a product list to suit their needs and providing that ongoing care.”
This year in particular could be one in which choosing the right wholesaler could result in real savings as political turmoil is expected to influence drinks prices.

Operators should look for a wholesaler with whom they can foster a relationship.

Billy Bell reckons a lot will depend on how Sterling is affected by Brexit, “as certainly with wine the UK is a major importer”.
“Currencies where Sterling is weak like those dealing in dollars will see pretty substantial increases on wine lists,” said Bell. “This will affect Chile, Argentina and the US, and may see house wines from these areas move out of that bracket on wine lists.
“Look out for good Euro-based wine areas like the South of France where they have had a great crop of grapes in 2016.”