Source: Email poll of wholesalers

There is no doubt the multiple retailers have stolen a march on the wholesale sector with the development of both budget and premium own-label ranges.

However, according to the results of our latest survey of the UK's leading wholesalers, the idea of being able to provide a variety of good, better, best lines has finally caught on.

Some 87.5% of the wholesalers questioned for our Reader Panel have developed a value range to appeal to consumers on a budget, with just 12.5% not investing in own-label at this end of the market.

Most wholesalers are clear that a good budget range is essential. What is surprising is that few wholesalers are keen to develop the ranges they currently have. Just 37.5% say they plan to expand their ranges or launch a new one, while 62.5% are happy with the status quo. Several admit they are cautious about the level of exposure they have to value ranges.

"We do not intend to expand the range as we really only recommend that those stores with an absolute consumer need for these products sell them," says one wholesaler.

Another adds: "We believe the cheap and cheerful market has a limited future as such lines are mainly handled by the discounters such as Aldi, Lidl and Netto."

This, says the latter, is where he sees the main competition for this kind of range. "More and more multiples are coming out of this market as they are not chasing bottom-end consumers who are drifting towards the discounters."

Naturally, 100% of those surveyed confirm price is a key issue for independent retailers - and that it always has been and always will be.

Of course, wholesalers do not feel they are able to compete purely on a price basis, which makes selecting and marketing the right products essential.

"There is still a lot of work to be done to ensure retailers are selecting the right range, featuring strong promotions and giving good customer service," says one. "While price is important it is not the only issue for independent retailers."

Another wholesaler agrees: "Price is, of course, important, but not necessarily on value lines. It is more important to us to be competitive on our main own-label lines and key supplier brands."

Of those asked, 62.5% say the multiples' competitiveness on budget lines is a growing concern.