Elbrook Cash and Carry has existed for 20 years and its Mitcham depot opened 13 years ago, but joining Landmark in January boosted its profile.
The buying group welcomed the extra £90m worth of annual business that Elbrook represented as its only wholesale customer for beers, wines and spirits south of the Thames. And Landmark enabled Elbrook to launch a retail club, Drinks Express, in June. That helps the wholesaler offer strong branded deals on top of offering its own label Khakhan and Papu’s spirits at low prices.
“When we joined Landmark, ScotCo encouraged us to start a retail club,” says retail club and depot manager Aqib Sindhu, who joined in April from foodservice wholesaler Brakes. “It explained that if the promotions we would be enabled to offer didn’t beat a supermarket’s, they would match it. “Before we joined Landmark, we were buying in straight packs of beer and lager and lots of customers were receptive to the white van man selling stuff cheaply.” Now he says the far more prominent deals offered by the 20,000 sq ft Mitcham depot hook customers more effectively. However, it has taken time to educate retailers that buying a pack at £6.99 and selling it for £7.99 may provide them with a profit of just £1, but will nevertheless drive footfall. “But we tell them when the promotion finishes they can go back to selling at whatever price they want.”
Sindhu says that it’s too early to say how joining Landmark has benefited sales. But with the retail club now becoming increasingly popular, the next aim is to take Landmark’s Hot House project, focusing on improving merchandising and store presentation, to customers. Off-trade business may represent 65% of sales for the Mitcham depot, Elbrook’s only dedicated branch, but it has other lucrative sidelines. It is letting another depot in Barking to Time Cash and Carry, and it is developing conference centres and even a banquet hall, which can seat 650 people and is situated directly behind the depot.
And a family business, Kabaret’s Prophecy, a Soho nightclub frequented by the famous, provides a lift for its on-trade business. Sometimes the nightclub will even provide a five-star service for celebrities such as the rapper Curtis ‘50 Cent’ Jackson. A quarter of the depot’s customers are drawn from the on-trade and a further 10% are distributors. It remains to be seen how that proportion will change in the coming year.