Last week I got out the one and only medal I own, which recognises my past chairmanship of the Federation of Wholesale Distributors, an honour I share with my father.
The occasion was the FWD annual dinner and Gold Medal awards, a highlight of the wholesale calendar and a chance to both catch up with old friends and reflect as the year draws to an end.
The Gold Medal awards are long established as the most important recognition of success within wholesaling and, as such, are keenly fought over. The supplier Gold Medal awards in particular are nominated and voted on by wholesalers, and reward excellence in the supply chain.
While all this year’s winners were clearly worthy of their accolade, I do feel that as wholesalers we are sometimes guilty of selecting the safe and/or easy option for the winners.
With the exception of Taylors of Harrogate, all this year’s winners were large multinational blue chip companies with wide ranges of product and plentiful resources.
As a sector we thrive on the diversity of our supply chain, and though consolidation does gradually cut this down there are still many suppliers making a real difference.
Smaller suppliers can and do move more swiftly than bigger players in introducing innovation in product and service.
“We’re sometimes guilty of selecting the safe option for the winners”
It would be great to see more varied recognition in the awards. For example, in chilled, House of Westphalia has made a real difference to wholesalers; Burton’s and Fox’s Biscuits have made great progress, Enco has grown new markets with Nourishment, Filippo Berio has made olive oil a real seller in independent stores, and Wagg is successfully developing dry petfood.
These are just a few examples of companies who we believe are succeeding in the wholesale sector based on good products and service. It is inevitably more difficult for such companies to stand out when they may not be in every wholesaler, but next year it would be great to see some new faces nominated.
I also hope we will continue to make progress in raising the profile of wholesaling as a whole in 2015. The FWD this year launched The Whole Story - a report by Capital Economics based on wholesaler figures showing the true extent and importance of our sector.
As part of the FWD Council that commissioned, contributed to and financed it, I take huge pride in the superb report produced, and am convinced the data we now have on the sector is going to be a big asset in our ongoing mission to be the voice of wholesaling in Westminster .
Steve Parfett is chairman of AG Parfett & Sons