united wholesale

United Wholesale is focusing on ratcheting up its symbol estate and to branch out of its heartland to other parts of Scotland.

The wholesaler’s symbol estate comprises about 270 Day-Today stores and 260 Usave outlets.

“We’ve got about 60 people waiting and we’ll probably add about another 100 stores this year,” said MD Asim Sarwar.

United Wholesale currently operates predominantly in Scotland’s central belt but Sarwar said his plan was to expand the area it covers into other parts of the country, such as Dundee and Aberdeen.

“We don’t go that far north but hopefully this summer we’ll be able to go into those territories,” Sarwar said.

Sarwar has briefed Chris Gallacher, who moved to the business earlier this month as operations director from Glasgow-based independent retailer operator Scotfresh to improve United’s efficiency, to help grow the business and develop the symbol estate.

“I think this year is all about getting set up for the future,” said Sarwar.

Meanwhile, he said United had been working hard to help retailers make the most of vaping opportunities.

It has built vape rooms in each of its three depots in Pollokshields, Glasgow and Grangemouth last autumn and has a dedicated vape specialist who goes out to educate retailers on vaping.

“It’s a slow burn,” said Sarwar. “It’s a bit of an education but retailers can do £200-£400 a week on vapes.

“Even though it might not be that high in sales, of that £200-£400, they are making 40%-50% margin so from a margin point of view it’s very good.”

United is still to finalise its results for the year to 31 December, but Sarwar said turnover was down slightly, predominantly driven by the decline in cigarette sales.