Blakemore Wholesale has axed 14,621 lines, 384 suppliers, 100 retailers and its Hexham depot in the last quarter as part of a plan to make the wholesaler more profitable.
This brings its total ranging down to around 10,000 lines, 355 suppliers and 13 cash & carries.
At a meeting attended by the company’s 100 top suppliers, Jeanette Bresitz who led the range rationalisation drive said: “It was a range that had grown out of control, and we needed to take control back.”
The new reduced ranging has been in effect for four weeks. Asked by Retail Express about the impact to retailers, Bresitz said the response from retailers had been positive and it had sent communications out to make sure retailers were aware of the changes.
Blakemore said still bottled water as the perfect example of a bloated category with 16 lines in 500ml bottles alone. To combat the range creeping up again a “one in, one out” policy is now in effect and suppliers are being asked to consider this when bringing new products to market.
MD of distribution James Russell warned: “If the proposition, brand, packaging and flavour isn’t right, we’re not going to do it. For too long we’ve been doing that sort of stuff and it just damages our credibility with customers.”
Cash and Carry makeovers
The reduced ranging coincides with planned changes to every Blakemore depot, which will now be laid out by category rather than brand and includes a larger on-trade offering. Wolverhampton was the first location to get the makeover, with the rest to be completed within the next six weeks.
The new formats will offer free tea and coffee, more promotional stock areas, reduced bad date sell-off areas and a layout which shows retailers where the product should be stocked on their shelves.
Retail Club cuts
Also facing the axe were 100 members of the Blakemore retail club, all were removed from the scheme in the last three months. Stores director Nick Rose explained: “We kicked 100 customers out of our retail club over the last few months, you don’t want us to waste our time there, and we don’t want to waste our time there.”
Rose said further changes to the retail club would “focus on the loyal customers.” He added: “When I joined was we had one size fits all on how we did promotions and what we made available to our customers. We didn’t reward our best customers or penalise our worst customers.”
The Hexham depot closed on July 27 with seven redundancies owing to what Blakemore described as “Unsustainable losses over the last 12 months.” Retailers using the branch were told to rely on the company’s delivered service instead, which will operate from the Killingworth depot.