from Alan Toft, DG, Federation of Wholesale Distributors

SIR; re The Saturday Essay by Clive Beddall (The Grocer, July 26, p28). It has been suggested to me that Clive was correct to imply that the independent retailer lobby is not as coherent or aggressive as it was in the days of stalwarts such as Herbert Love, of Mace, or John Irish, of Spar, or the late much lamented Les Brown, of the former British Independent Grocers’ Association.

The Association of Convenience Stores has filled a vacuum by representing all types of local store including those owned by giant superstore corporations and oil companies who are targeting the independent’s territory. It has a legitimate right to act in this manner and its policies are approved by its members.

Clive was very accurately reflecting the weakness in the dedicated independent campaigning lobby, which today has become a function of the trade press very much in line with national newspapers and the BBC adopting the role of opposition to the government in the absence of conventional political opposition.

The Grocer has been foremost in this aspect of raising issues by publicising the scandal of dwindling phone card margins.

The Federation of Wholesale Distributors is a ‘pure’ trade association which uncompromisingly, with its national coverage, can speak out for the independent retailer and caterer, also known as the sole trader, in support of its wholesaler membership.

Wholesalers can be assured that we are not pussyfooting on big issues.

The giant superstore is the enemy of the independent grocer and just at this critical moment of truth, as the Competition Commission is making its decision on the Safeway merger issue, our call to arms is not being ignored.