Blakemore has denied rumours that it is considering selling its wholesale business to rivals Bestway for £100m.
The Telegraph reported that takeover experts KPMG had been hired to look into selling off Blakemore’s wholesale division, which serves around 27,600 customers, 90% of which are retailers. It said Bestway had expressed interest in the company.
However, a spokesperson for AF Blakemore & Son told Retail Express: “AF Blakemore & Son is not for sale and our focus remains upon the company’s core purpose of building a profitable and sustainable family business for the benefit of our staff, customers, suppliers and the communities we serve.
“AF Blakemore has been a family-owned business for the past century and is committed to building a successful company for the next 100 years through the delivery of a number of strategic projects in conjunction with our consultant partners.
“Blakemore Wholesale is part of this strategy and we are looking at all options to develop the business and improve its performance.”
Blakemore Wholesale announced at a supplier meeting last week that it was going “back to basics”, with operations director Paul Rabone describing previous warehouse standards as “pretty poor”.
The company’s annual accounts published in late April showed continued issues elsewhere as well, with a profit margin well under 1%. At last week’s supplier meeting the company said profitability issues were caused by inefficiencies in ranging, wastage and loss-making promotions. Blakemore then outlined changes in order to tackle these issues including axing 384 suppliers and 10,334 lines.
James Russell, managing director of distribution said at the supplier meeting that the company is changing how it does business and added: “As a business we’ve got a huge amount of room and capacity for improvement.”
Addressing the company’s top 100 suppliers, category manager Scott McColl described the impact of market convergence and changes stating: “The market place is going to change dramatically with the advent of Booker and Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Nisa, and Morrisons and McColl’s. You guys need a strong Blakemore, and you are going to have to help build it.”