Independents are proving a poor investment for Nestlé according to sales and marketing director Graham Walker. He said: "Some 30% of our confectionery is sold on promotion, but a third of independent retailers are not passing on promotional deals from suppliers. How long can we continue to keep pumping money into independents when we are not seeing a return for our money?" Speaking at the Wholesale Confectionery and Tobacco Alliance annual dinner, Walker said the £5.6bn confectionery market is in long-term decline, as children divert pocket money from sweets to mobile phone top-up cards. Association of Convenience Stores chief executive David Rae told The Grocer: "Speaking as a former wholesaler, I know there is a problem and it needs to be addressed. There are a number of issues with confectionery, such as phonecard sales, and Nestlé may want to review its margins and get more involved with wholesalers." WCTA chief executive John Bowden told the guests that the tobacco side of the WCTA market also faces serious problems. He said: "Our industry is being hit by red tape, people are making decisions who have very little understanding of the industry. We want the government to provide a retail champion to consider the costs of regulation across the supply chain." Keynote speaker Jim McCarthy, chief executive of T&S stores, agreed: "The wholesale and retail channels are seriously challenged by a plethora of regulations, such as minimum wage and climate change levy. Wholesalers pass on costs, which widen differentials between independents and the multiples." But he added: "The tide could be turning for the first time in five years, due to duty marking. It's time for manufacturers, wholesalers and suppliers to work together." {{NEWS }}