Bashing suppliers is not the way to go about winning the best terms for cash and carry operators, according to the Today’s Group. Rodney Hunt, MD of the buying group, said the only way C&Cs could hope to get deals on a par with those offered to the multiples was if they provided the same sales and distribution benefits as the larger retailers.

“The wholesale sector has to appreciate that in modern trading, suppliers will not fund promotions and invoice cost price reductions if their investment is not reaching the point of sale to the consumer. “We are developing trading initiatives with members and their customers that achieve this objective and are working with suppliers to get the right promotion deals.” He said Today’s strategy had a number of strands, including its work developing central distribution and its Very Important Trader initiative to ensure retail discipline. Hunt added: “We have been very impressed with the enthusiastic reception for our strategies from brand owners and the major new investment we are obtaining.”

His comments came in the wake of a strongly worded attack on the track record of suppliers by Mike McGee, boss of rival Landmark group. McGee claimed some suppliers were operating pricing policies that discriminated against the cash and carry sector because of what he called “the myth of retail discipline” (The Grocer, December 11 1999) And McGee warned that Landmark was prepared to delist top brands if suppliers did not mend their ways. But that approach is at odds with that of his counterpart at Today’s, who said: “In 2000 we will be developing further our main core strategies and to achieve this we will be working closely with our suppliers. “All those involved in the wholesale sector must work as one if the commercial criteria are to be met ­ that will result in suppliers providing funding of costs, prices and overall investment at levels that are competitive with the multiple retail sector.”