Palmer and Harvey is planning to bolster its online operations and product ranges this year despite the tough economic outlook.

The wholesaler and distributor said its first six months’ trading data showed its non-tobacco sales were up by more than 5%.

“Times are tough for consumers right now, but overall we’re performing robustly and our customers have shown their resilience,” said P&H MD of commercial and sales Martyn Ward.

“We expect 2013 will continue to have tough trading conditions and we don’t see things dramatically looking up for many consumers. This means retailers are going to face a difficult time out there and consumers will remain focused on value for money.”

Ward said P&H planned to support retailers by extending its product range and adding new lines to its own-label M range - including 60 chilled and 120 ambient lines.

Online would also be a “key focus” in 2013. Following the successful launch of a barcode scanner in December 2011, Ward said P&H was aiming to get 75% of its customers ordering online.

Its van sales operation was now making around 50,000 visits a fortnight to retailers, which suited those who preferred to pay in cash, he added.

“We are also looking to improve the way we communicate and share knowledge with our customers through frequent research and customer forums led by senior business leaders,” he said. “We also intend to support the core CTN operators left behind by symbols.”