Suppliers are favouring multiples over independent retailers when providing support on trends and products, according to senior staff from symbol groups and wholesalers. 

A senior industry source told RN they had seen a noticeable difference in the way suppliers communicate with major supermarkets. “From my previous experience with the multiples, I’ve noticed supermarkets are getting more information and availability when it comes to products,” the source said. 

“It has an impact on the quality of information provided to independent retailers and they either don’t have the proper knowledge to sell products to their customers, or are late to stocking the newest products.”

DeeBee Wholesale trading director Andy Morrison added the experience of supplier reps has decreased compared with last year. 

“I appreciate some suppliers need to train new members of staff, but we’re getting reps who just aren’t as knowledgeable and we’re not getting as much information as we would like,” he said.

“The territories supplier reps have to cover are getting bigger, but we aren’t able to provide retailers with the same detailed information they used to get a year ago.”

In comparison, Scottish wholesalers Filshill and United Wholesale Grocers (UWG) have seen no changes in the quality of their rep visits. 

UWG managing director Amaan Ramzan, who is also a Unitas Wholesale board member, told RN: “We’re still seeing the same number of visits and detail of information.”

The comments come as exclusive research conducted by RN found that the average independent retailer had seen at least a 50% drop in the frequency of in-store rep visits over the past three years. 

One retailer said: “I don’t get as many rep visits any more, but when I do it’s always someone new. It’s frustrating not having a rep who’s familiar with us as customers or our store.” 

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