Suppliers, foodservice wholesalers and pub chains are aiming to convert thousands of pubs and other non-traditional outlets in the UK into convenience and grocery stores.

Brakes, Budweiser Brewing Group and Coca-Cola European Partners are among more than 17 companies to have launched Mypubshop.com, which enables customers to place orders online to collect at their local pub. 

Founder Sam Ulph said it would “help to alleviate the pressure on other grocery shops”.

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Bestway managing director Dawood Pervez revealed to betterRetailing that the wholesaler is working with the scheme to provide ranging recommendations and advise on which pubs are most suitably located to complement rather than compete with existing retail stores to fill gaps in rural store access. 

Catering wholesalers have also begun to sell directly to the public.

The Bestway boss warned that new interest from foodservice wholesalers in entering the retail market could add further strain to convenience sector supply chains. He said: “Any scheme to set up pubs or food outlets as convenience stores, or to allow foodservice operators to deliver direct to consumers, will take more focused retail stock out of the main route to convenience stores, unless it is serviced by retail-focused wholesalers. 

“Foodservice operators don’t have any retail packs, so that retail stock will have to come from somewhere.”

Tanya Pepin, managing director of analyst firm The Wholesale Company, visited one of the first pubs to make the switch, The Muddy Duck. She said it was breaking down foodservice lines into retail-appropriate pack sizes.

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“With many retailers struggling to meet local demand, and working flat-out to keep shelves stocked with basic groceries and household lines, it could be a highly complementary service and, without eroding store revenue, could generate enough footfall for the pub to keep it profitable,” she added.

Convenience stores are also using the foodservice sector. Retailers including Graeme Pentland, owner of Ashburton Village Store in Newcastle upon Tyne, revealed they were buying and breaking down large foodservice flour lines into small packs to keep shelves stocked. 

Alongside but separate to Mypubshop.com, The Foodens Foundation was also set up to help customers place orders direct from farms, shops, restaurants and cafés. 

The non-profit service charges sellers 10% commission on orders placed.

Co-founder Rob Kerry told betterRetailing 30 suppliers were selling through the scheme. He said: “This is an opportunity for them to get online and compete with national delivery services such as Ocado.”

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