Wholesalers are ready for reopening

New services and products have been lined up ahead of July 15

SCOTLAND’S wholesalers have been gearing up for the reopening of the trade by ensuring ordering “is as easy and efficient as possible” and introducing new products to help customers ensure they are COVID-compliant.

Though acknowledging the current climate is “uncharted territory” for the trade, wholesalers told SLTN they are ready to rise to the challenge when pubs, bars and restaurants are able to reopen their doors again on July 15.

Communication, they said, will be key.

Ian Cumming, commercial director of Inverarity Morton, said the company has been in constant contact with its suppliers throughout the pandemic.

“We know that moving forward we all have to be in this together, that’s why we have remained in contact with suppliers who have supported us well and we know that we are fully stocked and ready to support our customers in any way we can,” said Cumming.

“Whether it is from a stock perspective or drawing on our trade relationships to make sure they  are compliant – we are making sure that the process of reopening is not daunting and we are offering a full end to end service to ensure our customers feel supported and can navigate the new landscape with some notion of confidence.”

This was echoed by Sarah Chanter at wholesaler Lothian Supply Company, who said the company has been “speaking a lot to customers, keeping up with government announcements and guidelines on industry regulations and researching new products to ensure we have as comprehensive a range as possible, at the right price points”.

“I think the key word here is ‘agile’: being able to respond quickly to what is an ever-changing picture and keeping an open dialogue with customers to understand what it is they’re going to need,” said Chanter.

Companies have also spent the lockdown period developing new products and systems to make it easier for customers to trade safely during the ongoing pandemic.

Inverarity Morton has been developing its online offer and launching a new platform for trade customers.

“We have invested £1 million into a new ERP (enterprise resource planning) system that is in the process of going live and the next phase of this will launch a new trade section of our website, creating the opportunity for online ordering and account handling for customers,” said Cumming.

Likewise, Tennent’s recently announced an overhaul of its own online ordering system, Tennent’s Direct, to streamline and improve the process for trade customers.

Managing director Kenny Gray said the company has “focused our efforts on how we can best support the on-trade”.

“Now as thoughts turn to reopening, we are once again looking at the role we can play and are pleased to be able to offer our new Tennent’s Direct platform in time for recommencement of the trade,” said Gray.

“We appreciate this will be a busy time for operators and all existing Tennent’s Direct customers will automatically migrate over to the new platform.

“There will be lots for our customers to think about as they prepare to reopen and the addition of the new platform will make ordering easier but will also ensure they have key information and advice in one accessible place.”

And Niall Deveney, marketing manager at Dunns Food and Drinks, said the wholesaler has introduced a new offer called ‘Safe Hands’ – which he described as “a comprehensive set of dispense sanitisation solutions and PPE protection that is suitable for hospitality venues and indeed all business types adapting to the new normal”.
“The offering includes floor standing, self-contained sanitiser stations for entry points, plus wall mounted fonts for key positions within premises,” said Deveney.

“They provide that highly visible hygiene statement and operators can add their own logos to enhance their brand. Fitted and serviced by our experienced team of engineers, the cost-effective system is convenient, low maintenance and non-invasive.”

Ultimately, the advice from the sector was: if you’re unclear on something, ask your wholesaler.

“We’re here to support you in any way we can and we will try to make this process as easy and as encouraging as we possibly can,” said Cumming at Inverarity Morton.

“The Scottish licensed trade is a trade like no other and we will continue to embrace the ever-changing landscape.”

Chanter at Lothian Supply Company agreed.

She said: “What I would stress is that we’re not just here to deliver products, we’re here to provide a service, to dispense advice and guidance to businesses who have questions or concerns about the do’s and don’ts of post-COVID working.

“We’ve done our homework, we’ve invested time in developing our ranges so that customers can come to us and get everything they need to re-open safely.”