Day 1

Monday 16th September 2019

Arrival Day

Guests were welcomed poolside for an international buffet at the hotel, providing delegates with a great opportunity to relax and network with colleagues and friends, old and new.

Day 2

Tuesday 17th September 2019

Presentation Summary

Sam Wilcox, Chairman, Unitas Wholesale

I’m delighted to welcome you all to the very first Unitas Wholesale conference, a milestone event and a huge opportunity for everyone here. Our mantra is ‘champion of independents, champion of brands’ and for good reason. The UK needs a strong, vibrant independent channel, with family and independently owned businesses keeping communities thriving, selling the brands that people trust and love and we want to be a first-choice partner, both for members and suppliers. Through contact and collaboration, via events such as these, we can share perspectives which will lead to shared objectives and actions and we hope that you will leave here knowing it was a great investment of your time and money.


The Big Picture – Katherine Morgan, Interel Group

Currently, the British political scene can only be described as chaotic and dramatic with a future that is almost impossible to predict. If we leave the EU without a deal in place, the implications for wholesale business are both serious and significant, and so there’s a need for business to prepare for all outcomes. There will be a direct impact on our economy, and within wholesale, there will be serious consequences for import, export and the supply chain, particularly around fresh produce. Wholesale businesses need to be fleet of foot, and predict policy where possible as well as factoring in sustainability and obesity issues when business planning. There will be a dip in consumer confidence so expect a period of economic instability. Politics really matters to business, so keep a close eye on developments.


The Consumer Picture – Lisa Harris and Alex Hayes, Harris and Hayes

When it comes to purchases in food and drink, what are the key drivers and how do you know if a product is here to stay or likely to be a short-lived fad? To help answer these questions, we have developed a framework: The Four Ps.

Priorities – will the product fulfil my everyday needs? Driven by a need for convenience, previous successes have been food to go, on-the-move snacking, premiumisation and convenient formats, such as porridge sachets.

Purpose – does it share my values, around ethics and sustainability? Sustainability is at the forefront of consumers’ minds, with 66% of consumers saying they’re prepared to pay more for sustainable goods (Mintel, 2019). Successful examples have been Fair Trade products and milk alternatives.

Performance – what will it do for me? There’s a surge in popularity of brands that make functional claims, and consumers will pay more for health products that improve their performance, such as high protein, CBD or low-alcohol.

Pleasure – will it make me feel good? Innovative, fun and interactive products, especially in impulse, lead the way with unusual colours, flavours and textures. Bold packaging and cross-category innovation are great ways to


The Wholesale Channel – James Bielby, Chief Executive, FWD

FWD is your voice in Westminster and beyond, working on your behalf on all matters that affect wholesale. With the uncertainty of Brexit, wholesalers must work with suppliers, customers and service providers to map the supply chain. For 20 actions for wholesalers, visit Outside of Brexit, there are currently four key issues that we are working on for wholesalers: taxation and fraud; food and drink; environment; and workforce.


Update from Unitas Wholesale – Darren Goldney, MD, Unitas Wholesale

Contact and collaboration is what we do, connecting members and suppliers in the most effective, efficient way possible, to share key messages and establish relationships. This conference, for example, involves 58 members and 65 suppliers, resulting in more than 1,000 individual business meetings. The past year has seen significant change. In 2018 our aim was to be a highly valued partner offering efficient and effective scale. We have high expectations and are working hard to deliver on all aspects of this plan. In 2019, we are making great progress with one point of contact, one events programme, one core B2C promo, one core B2B promo, one digital platform, one finance process, one core range scheme and one own label, while our brand new Picture Portal launch is driving day one through-the-line execution to drive up sales for both members and suppliers.


Out of Home Future Strategy – Les Mohammed, Senior Trading Controller, Unitas Wholesale

Foodservice is a significant part of the Unitas Wholesale business, worth £2.5bn, with 95 out-of-home members servicing 120,000 foodservice outlets and 26,000 on-trade outlets. In 2018, the focus was on consolidation while 2019 has been on streamlining processes. For 2020, our focus is on selling more. With that in mind we are relaunching all marketing materials, launching a new and improved website, holding bigger and better events and we are asking suppliers to fully optimise the Unitas opportunity. There are 10 opportunities for suppliers to get involved, talk to us to make sure you’re involved.


Out of Home Strategy – Amir Chaudhary, Director of Operations, Indus Foods Ltd

We are passionate about collaboration, community values and the wholesale industry. We embrace innovation, and have a firm focus on understanding our market to ensure we deliver what they need while driving growth for brands. We have a highly experienced, multi-faceted commercial team and we believe in partnership, working closely with suppliers to deliver results. Our vision is to ensure we provide dynamic communications to all our digital customers, while strengthening the industry and supply chain, as well as the next generation of entrepreneurs. We believe wholesale should be a service, and we will work closely with the Unitas team to ensure we all benefit from revenue growth opportunities.

Day 3

Wednesday 18th September 2019

Member Presentation

Guy Swindell, Jon Goulding and Natalie Campbell, AG Parfett and Son

After another successful year with strong figures, Parfetts is focussing on future plans with three key strategies:

Retail: we already have 500 Go Local stores and continue to aim for 1,000. We are working with suppliers to deliver great support for retailers to enable them to thrive and grow, introducing new technologies and a creating a genuine USP.

Wholesale: GOLD is aimed at targeting new retailers outside existing depot geography and it is already generating more than £1m of additional sales per week, with depots operating 24-hours a day – cash and carry by day, distribution hub by night.

Digital: Digital Suite has been created specifically to engage with suppliers’ digital presence and offers an unlimited opportunity to target retailers and drive sales through an improved online presence, data and social media.


Retail Future Strategy

John Kinney, Retail Director, Unitas Wholesale

Looking to the future, we made the decision to retain all three fascia’s resulting in more than 1,000 stores. All three fascia’s are growing, and we expect to recruit 120 stores per year. We have rolled out Plan for Profit across the whole retail business, which includes the Category Range Guide, made up of 850 SKUs of the leading brands, representing suppliers voices. If you’re not included, we’re not hearing your voice, nor are our retailers. This guide is critical to our symbol development programme, highlighted in the guide, online, via the app and signposted in depot, and is a huge opportunity for suppliers to communicate directly with retailers. We are focussing on retail execution, with in-store audits in place for retailers, plus wholesalers can use the Picture Portal platform to demonstrate day one through-the-line execution for national promotions with incentives for participation. We’re also launching a ‘box out’ service pilot which is a great way for retailers to get access to NPD without any risk. It’s a great, cost-effective platform for faster on-shelf presence.


Member presentation – Asim Sarwar, United Wholesale (Scotland)

We are the biggest symbol operator in Scotland with more than 2,700 customers, 270 staff and a turnover of £235m. We want to be the best and do things differently, which is why we are launching the depot of the future in October to challenge the traditional journey of a retailer visiting a cash and carry depot. This app, United Connect, will collect customer data, and identify information such as his location, type of store and the products he buys. This will not only benefit the retailer with innovations such as scanning products to create a shopping list and Scan and Go which allows retailers to scan products as they buy them before generating an invoice at the end to miss out the queue to pay, but it also directly benefits suppliers who can tailor messages and campaigns around retailer behaviours and habits.


Trading Update

John Baines, Trading Director, Unitas Wholesale

We are delighted that suppliers are on the journey with Unitas, but are there more ways we can improve in our collaborative working? As a result, we have introduced the Supplier Collaboration Scorecard to help suppliers win. This is a checklist of key elements, including investment and pricing, where we check terms and pricing, and benchmark them against the competition every three weeks. We also check Finance and Admin, where we measure how quickly invoices are paid, assess support processes and authorisation timetables. We need swift resolution to outstanding debt, and ask that any bonuses are taken off invoices, rather than paid out at a later date. The scorecard also assesses Service and highlights suppliers who are delivering less than 90% which is unacceptable for any of our members, and Central Office. It also examines Central Support – do suppliers give us a fair share of NPD? There are plenty of opportunities for suppliers to support the work we do, via wholesale brochures, NPD launches, promotions and the retail and foodservice magazines. There are also digital packages, plus events such as the trade show. There are many exciting things planned for the year ahead, including one data platform; box out, which will explode distribution; WOW promotions; and pre-sell relaunch including couponing. Right now, the scorecard is predominantly green, and ambers and we’d like to see it all as green, but we need your help to do this.

Day 4

Thursday 19th September 2019

Presentation Summary

Feedback from the supplier council

Suppliers Karen Jones and Chris Leek fed back actions from the Supplier Council meeting the day before, highlighting results, opportunities and actions to take forward for the coming year.


Chris Leek, Budweiser Brewing Group

Just six weeks ago, Chris Leek undertook a mighty challenge, running 87 miles from Marble Arch, London to Dover. Then swim the English Channel before cycling 181 miles Calais to the Arc de Triomphe, Paris. Inspired by his dad, who has Parkinson’s Disease, he wanted to show that an ordinary man can achieve extraordinary things.

So far Chris has raised more than £170,000 and you can donate at:


Lord Daniel Finkelstein OBE

I’m here today to help you to learn to fish. Not angling, but how to read the newspapers and understand some of the political context that’s taking place now.

The most important rules to understand in politics are: don’t put too much weight on expert opinion; and don’t view random events as a pattern.

Politicians continually talk about details people don’t understand. They talk about figures where people don’t understand the context. The general public are more affected by their experience of the world than they are by what they’re told by politicians.

The contrast principle is noticeably at play in politics. Some politicians emerge victorious simply because they’re not the opposition.

It’s common to hear people talking about politics dressing up personal interest as national interest. We’re quicker to recognise strong opinions and traits in others, but not ourselves.

What’s going to happen with Brexit? I can’t see how Boris Johnson can break the law and leave the EU without a deal. If he has to ask for a deadline extension, he’ll lose his reputation of strength and the Leave support base, so he has only one option: get a deal.

We all want to know what people are doing, but especially people just like us. No-one wants to stand out, we want to follow others and behave just like them, which the government isn’t managing well. The political impact of this government is normalising behaviours they want to reduce. We survive and evolve utilising the fairness rule. If I do a favour for you, you’ll do one for me, and we work hard to identify who may cheat us in a deal. We look for those who look and behave like us and we trust them, and this is never more true than in politics.













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