AF Blakemore new purpose built distribution centre in Bedford

Source: AF Blakemore

It saw sales increase by 18% to the four weeks ending 2 January

AF Blakemore has forecast a 20% uptick in sales by the end of the financial year following a strong performance over Christmas.

It saw sales increase by 18% to the four weeks ending 2 January, while recording its highest case volume yet on New Year’s Eve.

The wholesaler praised the effective planning and additional capacity generated from its new Bedford distribution centre for keeping up with demand, despite industry-wide supply issues and rising Covid-related absences.

“Much of the sector had forecast a challenging operating period with predictions of supply chain failures impacting availability and the ongoing Covid pandemic affecting staffing levels,” said chairman Peter Blakemore.

“Without doubt, Covid continues to impede colleague availability, however by investing and putting importance on our people capability, it has enabled us to continue to operate as normal despite Covid-related absenteeism, which was similar to peak pandemic levels.”

The business explained, however, inbound supply is still six percentage points below outbound and has called on suppliers to invest in mitigating these issues to improve availability and ensure it can meet its target.

This year will also see a transitional period with changes to the AF Blakemore leadership team, as group MDs Geoff Hallam and Jerry Marwood will be retiring at the end of the financial year 2022 and May 2023 respectively.

Jerry Marwood will take over group CEO responsibilities following Hallam’s retirement, as well as focusing on the acceleration and delivery of the five-year business plan. The latter will see the business invest in key areas such as: fresh food solutions and innovation, digital technology and its logistics infrastructure. Marwood will also implement his succession plan to ensure a smooth transition in 2023.

Blakemore added: “Geoff’s contribution to the AFB business has been substantial and I would like to thank him for his dedication and commitment during his time with us and wish him every happiness in his retirement.

“I am delighted Jerry will be appointed to the CEO role continuing to manage the planned transition and steering the company’s strategic direction. The coming months will see further senior appointments as we structure our business in line with our long-term strategy.”