Independent retailers have greater access to professional foodservice equipment, advice and lines as a result of Confex wholesalers opening their depots to shop owners.

More than 65% of wholesale members within the buying group are now providing products and equipment to independent store owners. The figure represents 155 of Confex’s 238 total members.

Tom Gittins, Confex business development director, told RN half of its food-to-go business comes from ‘thousands’ of independent retailers.

“None of our foodservice wholesalers would have provided their business to independent retailers five years ago, but there’s been less segmentation between the products and services provided,” he said.

“The sales of products such as cigarettes has declined for independent retailers and they’ve had to find other means of attracting footfall.

“Retailers don’t want to have to go to 20 suppliers to get their products. They want only a handful, so there’s been a blurring of product categories.”

Gittins added that the products being provided to retailers aren’t just limited to pasties, cakes and drinks. “Our wholesale members are working in partnership with suppliers to provide equipment. A supplier we work with provides coffee machines. Others are providing free hot counters if they make their food order through certain wholesalers.”

Confex has an association with Landmark Wholesale, which is due to merge with Today’s Group to form Unitas Wholesale later this year. 

Commenting on the deal, Gittins said: “Unitas will have 27% of the wholesale market. It should improve our leverage with suppliers to get improved deals to the benefit of our customers.”

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