We had a ‘first’ this week; a supplier announcing on social media that we had de-listed him. The announcement went as follows: “DE-LISTED NEWS! .. we’ve been dumped by COTSWOLD FAYRE ... long story short, it’s been like a marriage that’s gone sour and then suffered from irreconcilable differences..” This was accompanied by a photo of his dog in the snow with a football – I am not sure what relevance that had, but maybe I am missing something?
I never would normally become involved in on-line arguments as I don’t believe in airing dirty laundry in public, but what I would always do would be to counter fake news and outright untruths where it looks as if my team have behaved unprofessionally. There is not room in this blog to go into all the details, you can read the dialogue within Linkedin here but it is astonishing that some suppliers simply do not understand the nature of the producer/wholesaler relationship whatsoever.
In this case, we had built this crisp brand well during the first 18 months supplying into many independents and some of our national groups to a sales turnover approaching six figures. At this point the supplier started several activities to undermine what we thought was a good mutually beneficial relationship. Even when they were invited to one of our own events they were handing out fliers quoting discount for retailers who bought direct. They announced that the floor-standing display units we had been pushing out to our customers would now only be available to their direct customers. They also told us that despite growing sales they were going to cut our margin by 5%, so that their direct prices were more competitive than those through wholesalers. So, yes, we did, at this point, delist SLABS crisps from our range, but I think you will agree that we were left with little choice! The announcement on LinkedIN said that they were still in the ‘honeymoon period’ with two other wholesalers – all I can say to them is good luck when the honeymoon is over.
This blatantly poor behaviour, I am pleased to say, is not normal in the speciality food sector. We enjoy a great working relationship with the vast majority of our producers. Apart from the other advantages using a wholesaler brings there is a huge reduction in the carbon footprint for retailers in consolidating their supply. All the talk of plastic reduction is fantastic, but most retailers could achieve a far greater benefit to the environment by cutting down the number of vans delivering to their back doors. A move back to direct supply away from wholesale supply to direct from producer might seem like a good move to some, but our children and grandchildren won’t thank you for contributing further to climate breakdown.