Suppliers’ logistics systems were branded a “total disgrace” at an industry debate held by the Wholesale Confectionery and Tobacco Alliance this week.

David Hawkes, of Ferndown Wholesale, of Bournemouth, said late and inaccurate deliveries “had never been as bad” in his 42 years in the wholesale industry.

His comments - which were met with murmers of approval - followed a presentation on wholesale distribution by the chairman of Key Lekkerland, Alan Symonds. He had urged manufacturers to make good use of technology.

All Key’s suppliers went through its telesales department rather than place orders electronically, he said. But, in contrast, at least half of Key’s
retailers used its hand-held scanning equipment or PCs to place orders electronically.

Symonds said: “It seems strange that a small wholesaler has these IT systems and big manufacturers do not.

“Technology is the solution. Orders go straight through and the risk of a pile of orders getting lost is reduced.” If communications between suppliers and manufacturers were better, he said, stock could be on sale within 48 hours of an order being placed, to the benefit of all.

Symonds went on to say that wholesale was a cheap route to market but one that was not being used effectively by many manufacturers.
Anne Bruce