Confectionery buying group Sugro UK has clawed its way back from a tough first quarter to end the year with a turnover 12% up on last year’s.

The start of the year had “proved a battle for the sector” because the multiples had stocked up on multipacks, “compromising the independent wholesale supply chain”, said MD Philip Jenkins.

At one point, Sugro’s single countline business was down 29% as supermarket deals such as five Mars for £1 drove retailers to buy from the mults instead of wholesalers, making the Tesco store manager “the indie retailer’s best friend”, he claimed.

However, suppliers had “quickly realised they’d made a mistake” by investing so much in the mults and had since helped Sugro to support its value Quidz In range, he said.

The take-up of Quidz In, as well as Sugro’s Money Maker Plus promotions and Liquidator Challenge trade show, had helped Sugro to recover turnover and finish the year to 30 November 12% ahead of 2010, Jenkins said.

Trading director Mike Sonia added that the £1 Quidz In lines, which include larger chocolate bars as well as multipacks of chocolate, crisps, sweets and soft drinks, had “wiped out all the losses” from single countlines. The range’s success lay in its value for money, he said, adding that although the retailer margin was slightly lower than for single lines, the volume uplift equated to more cash in the till.

Consumer preference for multipacks would disappear when the economic climate improved, he predicted. “At the end of a recession, the lady who used to shop at Waitrose goes back. That’s what will happen with multipacks - I reckon that in 18 months we’ll all have forgotten about Quidz In,” he said.

Sugro has also created a new business development unit, which will be headed by Ian Irvine, and appointed Herbinder Kaur as business development executive. Kaur will be responsible for recruiting new members and improving wholesaler compliance.