Asda is launching a low-cost cash and carry model designed to offer retailers products in bigger pack sizes and own-label products without membership fees.
Reports said the multiple announced the opening, alongside proposed further rollouts, in a supplier briefing last week.
The Costco-style cash and carry business will open at Asda’s Patchway site in Bristol on 28 November.
It will stock major brands under its Member’s Mark club model, which has lines available in pack sizes of 36.
Own-label products under its Sam’s Club brand will also be imported from the US.
The site will operate separately to its neighbouring Asda supermarket, and will also be open to the public.
Retail expert David Gilroy said the move will push wholesalers into offering a better service to convenience store owners.
“The ‘trade only’ concept is dead. Business customers look for value from every possible avenue. I’ve seen supermarket brands in independent stores and I’ve seen selling prices that are simply not possible from ‘conventional’ sources,” he said.
“Wholesalers close to their customers with a well-defined proposition and offering great value have little to fear. Those who don’t have their game together will suffer.”
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Keith Robinson, founder of price comparison specialist Compare the Wholesaler, added the move will potentially encourage other wholesalers to open their doors to the public. “The whole market is now just about supply and availability,” he said.
“Do major brands care where independent retailers source their products from? No. Wholesalers must open their doors to the public before they’re shut for good.”
Gaurave Sood, of Neelam Convenience and Post Office in Uxbridge, London, advised retailers stock larger packs to compete. “Customers skip us because they can afford to buy in bulk from the wholesaler.
“This would be my major gripe with an Asda cash and carry. However, we’ve noticed customers will come to us if we have these larger pack products because we’re closer to where they live. We stock products such as laundry softeners and detergents in 5l pack sizes.”
An Asda spokesperson told betterRetailing: “In the current competitive market, it is more important than ever to respond to changing customer needs and the key to this is to innovate and to test new ideas.
“We have already launched some exciting trials this year and we’ll always let customers know when there’s something new to look forward to.”
The announcement follows the launch of Tesco’s Chef Central concept, which offers Booker catering products in bulk at selected Tesco Extra sites.