from John Gardner, director, Breakthrough Strategies consultancy

Sir; re your feature ‘A wholesale shakedown’ on whether there is a good case for newstrade deregulation (The Grocer, September 6, p40).

The newspaper wholesalers and publishers will invent all sorts of euphemisms to protect their monopoly domination of the supply chain for the reason that it serves their interests and disposition.

The hypocrisy is that these same publishers will lampoon governments and companies and fat cats for operating rigged markets when they themselves are running a £5bn+ rigged market.

In 1994 the campaign ‘NEWS’ (which I organised and ran) called for the elimination of the newstrade wholesaler’s right to decide who should receive supplies.

The campaign also urged that the market should be opened up at retailer level.

The next step, which was not considered by the then government, would be to declare the geographic wholesaler monopolies as not just acting against the public interest and against free trade but also as inefficient.

A free market in wholesale supplies would give retailers choice and, incidentally, eliminate the arrogant monopoly practices such as box out - the 24 hour ‘take it or leave it attitude’.

Wholesalers would then have to become more efficient to survive and the major multiples, delivered wholesalers and symbol operators could enter the market providing some valuable competitive influence.

The result of this would be retailer choice, more efficient supply chains, more responsive producers and shareholder rewards for the best.

If there is enough united determination within retailing, then a breakthrough can be achieved in creating a free market.