Martin Race

Bestway needs to cut more lines to optimise its core range, the wholesaler’s MD has said.

Martin Race told delegates at the Him Wholesale Conference last week that cuts already made across a number of categories had not gone far enough.

“In reality we probably haven’t taken enough out,” he said of the cuts, which began about two years ago.

“Some people will come in and say the core range for a retailer should be 4,000 SKUs. My gut feeling is that that’s not enough, but we’ve probably got 12,000 SKUs.”

He said that in some areas the cull had not been ruthless enough.

“We need to get the proper core range fixed, so we’re on to that now,” he said.

Race, who is set to retire at the end of November to be succeeded by trading director Dawood Pervez, later told The Grocer the move was a “natural ongoing process”.

He said the wholesaler ran a continuous rolling category management programme, which involved range selection either nationally or regionally.

“While we have taken SKUs out in the past two years with our retail acquisitions and the continuing development of Best-one, we need to go one step further with a clear core range available to all,” he added. “We are currently working through what this looks like and it may result in some more lines being taken out.”

A number of major retailers have also launched SKU cutbacks, including Waitrose, which is preparing to overhaul 30 categories in a bid to ensure its range is “absolutely right for customers”. Waitrose is working with consultants from OC&C on the process.

That follows a similar move by Tesco in 2015, which saw the retailer work with Boston Consulting Group as part of its Project Reset, which emboldened the supermarket to cut harder and deeper in subsequent range reviews.