The Landmark Cash & Carry buying group is about to lose its biggest member, Bestway, which accounts for more than £1bn of its £2.6bn turnover.
Both sides insisted the separation, which will take place from January 1, was amicable, and Bestway said it had no plans to join another group.
Bestway trading director Younus Sheikh said the company had been a Landmark member for more than 25 years, but recently their interests had begun to diverge.
He pointed out that Bestway had its own brand, Best in, and the Best-One retail business, and said it now intended to raise the profile of the company and its brand. It is also looking to maintain growth with its 31st depot due to open in Derby in May and more in the pipeline. “Because of our size it was becoming a problem to keep a balance between us and the smaller members within the group,” he said.
“We always agreed that if we ever felt we had become cumbersome to the group we would part.”
Landmark MD Martin Williams said the group would become closer and more focused, and would continue working with suppliers on its Wholesale Vision strategy. “We believe the trading impact will be minimal. Without Bestway, Landmark still has a combined turnover of £1.6bn, making the group half as big again as Bestway, and we retain our position as the second largest cash and carry business in the country after Booker.”
He added: “Bestway did not participate in Landmark’s own brand activities, the central distribution operation, central new product listing activities or the Executive Information System (EIS).
As a result they contributed very little towards central operating costs.”
Williams said the change would also benefit suppliers because they would no longer be expected to engage in further member negotiations following central agreement, and this would give the central deal more clarity for suppliers.
Rival buying group Nisa-Today’s has been trying to persuade Landmark to join it for several years but has been rebuffed and Williams said Bestway’s move made a deal no more likely. “You can never say never, but there is no interest at the moment,” he said.
Williams said the two groups were very different operations, with Landmark having a central office, rather than a head office culture, and having a purely wholesale focus compared to Nisa-Today’s retail bias.
Today’s MD Rodney Hunt refused to be drawn on whether the change made a deal more likely. He said: “It would not be appropriate for me to comment on the business of another group.”
John Wood