Budgens and Londis owner Musgrave Retail Partners GB is planning to save millions of road miles this year by dramatically expanding its backhauling operations.

Instead of returning empty to the depot after delivering products to Budgens and Londis stores, Musgrave GB’s vehicles will also pick up products from nearby suppliers on their return journey.

The initiative would save about 175 suppliers from having to deliver stock to its depots in their own vehicles, cut more than 1.3 million road miles and backhaul 16 million cases, Musgrave GB estimated.

In 2007, Musgrave GB saved 310,000 road miles through backhauling when it worked with 42 suppliers.

“This simple yet effective way of reducing road miles and saving CO2 emissions is a win-win for Musgrave, our retail partners, supplier partners and the environment,” said Musgrave GB MD Phil Smith.

The wholesaler’s supply chain has been transformed by the arrival of supply chain director Scott Wharton who joined Musgrave GB from Tesco, where he was network development director, in January 2007.

Since then, retailers have raved about his new initiatives including planograms customised to individual store layouts, paperless picking and evening deliveries. Last year, Wharton pledged to create the “best supply chain in Great Britain, bar none” and promised a £33m investment in Budgens’ supply chain as well as six-day deliveries for Londis.

Meanwhile, Musgrave GB is planning to develop around 500 own-label lines across Budgens and Londis this year. The wholesaler plans to rebrand existing lines and review areas where new product development could be needed.

It currently has nearly 1,700 own-label lines including 150 products in its Budgens premium range Our Kitchen, 1,500 core lines across Budgens and Londis and 48 products in its new value range Good Value, which launched earlier this month.  A second phase of products in the range will follow in March.