reassure wholesalers Rod Addy Walkers has this week moved quickly to allay wholesalers' fears that it would use its Golden Wonder van sales acquisition to bypass them completely. In a statement issued to The Grocer, Walkers' vice-president, impulse, Benet Slay, confirmed that the van sales fleet was significant, but implied it would be used more in the licensed and leisure industry. The snack services business, which primarily services the licensed and leisure sector, came as an integral part of the deal and was not a separate or additional acquisition, he said. But Slay added: "While we are confident we will significantly enhance our service to the growing licensed and leisure sector through this acquisition, Walkers has always followed a multi-channel business strategy and continues to remain fully committed to the wholesale channel." Wholesaler concerns had been heightened when a PepsiCo investors' conference call seemed to emphasise the van sales acquisition more than Walkers had in a letter to wholesale customers. The letter, from senior vice-president Tom Kuzio, said: "In order to facilitate this deal, the acquisition also includes Golden Wonder Snack Services, a van fleet operating predominantly in the independent licensed and leisure sector." However, the conference call played up its importance. Having referred to obtaining Golden Wonder's Wotsits brand, it continued: "More importantly this deal brings with it a van distribution system that we are sure we can leverage in the growing UK market." Richard Errington, trading director at wholesaler Lowries, said he thought Walkers intended to maintain its wholesale contracts. However, he added: "I believe it will start off like that. But the worry is if the vans have time on their hands, they could certainly be used to go to independents." {{NEWS }}