Elaine Watson
Yorkshire-based cash and carry Batleys has been conducting low key trials of a delivered wholesale service for several months, revealed MD Len McCormick.
"Cash and carry is not growing as fast as delivered wholesale and we are not going to bury our heads in the sand as the market changes around us," he said. "We've got to look at all possibilities. The service is available from four of our depots, and we'll take a decision on whether to roll it out shortly."
The company has developed a computer programme to process delivered orders, and would develop dedicated picking centres ­ along the lines of Booker's new delivery hubs ­ if the service is rolled out.
"We've taken a lot of learnings about delivered wholesale from our petfood operation," added McCormick.
Separately, Batleys is still on the acquisition trail and has earmarked a site in the south to add to its 18-strong C&C portfolio.
Although the cost of closing down its Wundpets and Seddons petfood depots and amalgamating operations into new facilities had dented profits, the payback would be worth it, said McCormick. "We put our foot on the gas very hard last year, and we knew it would impact the P&L, but we are now the largest petfood distributor in the UK."
The costs of reorganisation drove group pre-tax profit down from £2.6m to £1.6m in the 26 weeks to October 26, on sales up 3% to £326m. However, the profitability of the core cash and carry business remained "solid".

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