Philip Jenkins, Sugro UK

Jenkins: indies are “at a tipping point” with technology

Sugro UK is to relaunch its website and offer click & collect for the first time to take advantage of what it described as a “tipping point” for technology in the independent retail sector.

The wholesale buying group, which has had a web presence since 2003, has developed a central database for its members’ 70 depots, which will allow indies to order online.

Currently, Sugro’s members use their own data but the new system, which will be rolled out in 2014, will use Sugro’s own software to create a “uniform database” across the network.

Once the software is in place, Sugro then plans to modify it so its members can offer indies click & collect.

“The goal is to have a fully integrated system - but to achieve that we have to have uniformity of data,” said Sugro UK managing director Philip Jenkins. “Indies are not yet ready for technology in their stores but I believe we are at a tipping point, and when it comes it will happen quickly. In two years it will begin to accelerate. We are ready for that.”

Jenkins added that there was scant research available on how many indies were currently ordering online and there were very few wholesalers that had made click & collect work for their business. But he said he wanted to get the “bulk of turnover” online by the end of 2014.

“With online rolling out to stores, click & collect is a huge opportunity for wholesale groups,” he added. “I want to get retailers to collect from their delivered wholesaler rather than going to their cash & carry - to turn right instead of left.”

The buying group’s website,, is set to relaunch imminently. As well as allowing indies to place online orders, it also includes detailed information on promotions, top-selling products, planograms and equipment.