Leaders of the wholesale industry believe there should be consolidation among both companies and buying groups to allow the sector to compete more effectively with the major multiples.

An e-mail poll of The Grocer’s wholesaler reader panel found that 70% thought there should be consolidation among companies, and that figure rose to 80% for buying groups.

The boss of one major wholesaler said: “As in any sector there are always smaller companies either being swallowed up or giving up, but consolidation on a bigger scale is always likely and probably desirable.”

However the head of another company, who also believed consolidation was desirable, was more pessimistic

He said it was “exceedingly unlikely” among buying groups.

Turning to companies, he added: “It is quite unlikely as there seems to be little appetite among either the current wholesale companies or through a consolidating new entrant to take this on board.”

A director of another company said: “There needs to be consolidation among wholesale buying groups to give more clout to the sector and allow it to benefit from economies of scale to put up some sort of competition to the multiples’ growing might.”

He said consolidation would come but was not imminent.

A director of another major firm warned: “Philosophies, personalities and jobs at risk will hamper the process.”

Another industry leader said consolidation should take place among the buying groups to improve the buying power of the sector, but warned: “It is unlikely as there are too many vested interests and the groups have different trading philosophies. After all, they are in competition with each other.”
John Wood