AF Blakemore & Son’s decision to sell its cash & carry operation marks a watershed moment for the UK wholesale sector.

The future of cash & carry as a viable option has been a topic of speculation for many years and rumours of its demise have often been greatly exaggerated.

Blakemore Wholesale

Blakemore Wholesale

For many independent retailers, even those signed up with delivered wholesalers, shopping around at several cash & carry depots remains a habit they simply can’t kick.

However, as more and more wholesalers develop delivered capability and younger retailers embrace online ordering, cash & carry is being squeezed. It now seems only major national brands Booker and Bestway and focused regional operators can survive in this competitive marketplace.

Blakemore itself was a major force for consolidation, with five of its 12 depots having been bought from smaller operators in the past decade. However, even as a bigger business it never reached the scale to challenge nationally. It is now likely these depots will be picked off by smaller regionals. Hopefully this localised focus will be successful.