The “relentless” pace of consolidation in the wholesale market looks set to continue with top industry figures refusing to rule out further moves in the aftermath of Tesco-Booker and Co-op-Nisa deals.
Asked whether Today’s Group could, as recently suggested online, merge with another buying group, principally Landmark, Today’s managing director Darren Goldney responded: “There’s always going to be speculation. What we’re focused on is being the group of choice, not by being better than Landmark or Sugro but by being better than our wider competitors. If we do that I think we’ll get bigger.”
Speaking more generally, Mr Goldney predicted further consolidation across the grocery market, hinting that deals may be struck between non-traditional players.
“If you look at consolidation now it’s a bit different. I would almost call it cross-channel consolidation – it could be someone from a totally different industry which once would have been considered ring-fenced from what we’re doing.”
He added: “The market isn’t as consolidated as it will be. If you were to ask me what that means, I can’t answer that. Will there be less groups or less nationals? People will continually be looking for efficiencies.”
Meanwhile, in an interview to be published in full next week, Spar managing director Debbie Robinson was repeatedly asked if she could imagine a time when Spar was supplied by a supermarket. She said: “At the moment we’re doing very nicely thank you.”
She went on to describe the recent pace of consolidation as “unexpected”, but believed Spar had the right plans in place to thrive.
“There had been a lot of talk about Palmer & Harvey going under; we knew that Nisa had been losing money and only recently made a modest profit and Costcutter had also been losing money. The surprise has been the sheer pace of change,” she said.