The Federation of Wholesale Distributors has called on Westminster to help wholesalers work towards “economic prosperity” with a series of actions laid out in a manifesto published today.
As the political parties write their plans ahead of election year, the FWD is aiming to kickstart a conversation on how the sector’s “knotty challenges” can be addressed in order to “turbocharge growth” for wholesalers across the UK.
The trade body has asked the government to abolish the annual inflationary increase to the business rate multiplier as a way to help wholesalers alleviate rising costs.
With the industry employing over 70,000 workers, the FWD has also requested government to expand the Apprenticeship Levy into a wider skills levy to stimulate greater investment in skills and training. It said this would “support the workforce of the future”.
Sustainability was another key theme pinned in its manifesto. It said offering a “clear and consistent” strategy for road freight decarbonisation with zero-emission vehicles would be a practical step in guiding wholesalers towards their net zero strategies.
The safeguarding of its members was also top of the agenda, as wholesalers endure increasing levels of theft, which often involve violence and intimidation, along with retailers alike.
FWD said ensuring the Criminal Justice Bill tackled wholesale crime was critical. It would welcome a new law that made assaulting a retail or wholesale worker a specific offence, it said.
The “razor-thin” margins that wholesalers operate on also needed to be addressed, according to FWD’s manifesto, which was being further hampered by overhead costs for warehousing, vehicles, and refridgeration facilities to ensure the “integrity of the supply chain”.
FWD has therefore requested that government ensures a joined-up approach to food and drink regulation across the devolved regions, as any divergence leads to significant added costs and complexity for wholesalers.
“Wholesalers are the lifeblood of the nation – from supporting high street restaurants to supplying hospitals, schools and local retailers with food, the FWD membership is delivering for the people of the UK, in every region,” said FWD CEO James Bielby.
“If we look ahead to the next decade, it’s clear that at home and abroad we are on the cusp of climate transformation, and the food supply chain is central to this. Our manifesto is therefore an open invitation to all in Westminster to work with us to ensure the wholesale sector can play a full and active role in driving future economic prosperity to every region in the UK.
“I look forward to talking through all of our deliverable policy asks to make the case for the wholesale sector in the weeks and months ahead.”
Minister for food, farming and fisheries Mark Spencer said: ”For many years, FWD has championed and promoted the interests of food and drink wholesalers within Westminster and Whitehall. I look forward to working with FWD to ensure its members can deliver growth and prosperity to every corner of the UK.”
Shadow environment minister Daniel Zeichner added: “FWD is the voice of UK food and drink wholesalers and I congratulate them on the publication of their manifesto today. The document sets out a series of actions to drive forward growth, which Labour will consider carefully as we prepare for a general election. I look forward to working with FWD and its membership to support and drive forward the wholesale sector in the years ahead.”