Bill Laird

Bill Laird

The wholesale sector is mourning the death of Today’s Group MD Bill Laird, who passed away last weekend after a long illness at the age of 54.

Instrumental in the de-merger of Nisa-Today, and the formation of Today’s Group in 2012, Laird instigated many new initiatives including the group’s technology platform, the formation of an on-trade division and an interactive digital retail magazine.

“As well as being totally focused on the challenge of running the UK’s leading buying group, Bill was always fiercely loyal to his staff and colleagues,” said a Today’s Group spokeswoman. “A genial Scot with a mischievous sense of humour, he will be greatly missed by his team in Doncaster, members of Today’s Group, the board of directors of TWS and all his many friends in the wider wholesale, retail and supplier community.”

Before taking over from Rodney Hunt as Today’s Group MD in 2009, Laird was COO at Midcounties Co-operative for seven years.

During this time he pioneered the introduction of self-scan checkouts in its supermarkets and convenience stores. He also led the merger of former Oxford, Swindon & Gloucester Co-op with the West Midlands Society.

After starting out at Wm Low, he also worked at Asda, Texas Homecare, Woolworths and Somerfield.

He was also a leading light within the FWD. “We owe Bill a huge debt for the time and energy he put into building a stronger wholesale sector,” said FWD CEO James Bielby. “His ability to cut through to the core of an issue, and the wry humour with which he did it, was a great asset in our council meetings. He was an incredibly loyal and supportive member of FWD and a witty and knowledgeable presenter at several of our events. We send our deepest sympathies to his family and the team at Today’s. He will be missed by all in the wholesale trade.”

Today’s Group competitors were keen to pay their respects. “I always found Bill open, honest and full of integrity,” said Landmark Wholesale MD Martin Williams. “Whilst we were competitors, it never stopped us working together for the greater good of the industry. Bill was also a great help to me when I joined the FWD council and particularly when I took over as chairman. He will be sadly missed by all his friends and colleagues in the industry.”

Bestway MD Younus Sheikh said Laird was a “stalwart of the wholesale sector for many years who shaped the Today’s Group into the formidable group it is today.”

“I was always struck by his integrity, humour and dedication towards his wholesale members. He was one of a few individuals who truly saw the value of the wholesale sector and, despite leading a buying group of over 150 wholesale members, never once forgot that each member was a separate business with its own identity.”

Booker CEO Charles Wilson said “Bill will be missed by all in wholesale. His contribution to Today’s wholesalers and retailers was massive. This is a real blow to all who knew him.”

Palmer & Harvey MD Martyn Ward added: “I would like to pass my condolences on to everyone at Today’s and to Bill’s family after hearing the sad news of his passing.”

Laird is survived by his wife Dawn and their three children, Alexander, Aletia and Emelia. His funeral takes place on 5 March. For funeral details see box.

Funeral information

Date and Time: Friday 5th February 2016, 12pm.

Venue: Cheltenham Crematorium, South Chapel, Bouncer Lane, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL52 5JT

Dress Code: The family has stated please wear whatever you feel is comfortable and appropriate.

The family has asked that if you are attending please RSVP to by Friday 29 January which will greatly assist them.

Donations in lieu of flowers can be made to Sue Ryder and/or Kate’s Home Nursing, both who did a wonderful job in caring for Bill.

A Just Giving page has been set up for both of these charities (Kate’s Home Nursing) and (Sue Ryder), they can also be accessed via The Today’s Group corporate website

Should you have any further queries please contact