The National Buying Consortium (NBC) was formed last month as a splinter group of now-rivals Confex, to negotiate better deals with suppliers.

Wholesaler members include Centurian Soft Drinks, M1 Confectioners and Rainbow Sweets. 

As part of its formation, the group is launching the National Distribution Network (NDN), where, instead of suppliers delivering to wholesalers, they deliver to a central warehouse, which splits the orders before sending it out to wholesalers. 

Retail expert David Gilroy told betterRetailing the NDN will provide retailers with better availability. 

“Suppliers often have high minimum order requirements when delivering to wholesalers and this does have an impact on retailers,” he said. 

“Smaller wholesalers then struggle for availability because they can’t meet these requirements financially and this means retailers aren’t always confident they will find what they want from the wholesaler.” 

He added: “NBC has found a clever solution to this. These regional wholesalers are more likely to improve their availability and retailers can only benefit if they can buy products at sensible prices.” 

According to another industry expert, national wholesalers are even struggling to meet supplier demands. 

“Wholesalers such as Bestway and Booker find it difficult to meet the order requirements of suppliers like Heinz, who ask for between 500 to 1,000 cases. 

“Having a new central distribution network can improve efficiency and availability for retailers who buy stock from NBC’s wholesalers. The key will be how expensive the stock is.”

NBC is led by managing director David Lunt – former Confex senior business development director. He said: “We already have more than 20 high-profile independent wholesalers on board across a variety of sectors, and this number is growing weekly.”

Confex declined to comment when asked by betterRetailing.