New pricing strategies employed by suppliers are threatening the profitability and even the survival of wholesalers, managing director Rodney Hunt told delegates at The Today's Group 2001 Conference in Tenerife. Mentioning no suppliers by name ­ but clearly referring to moves by Coca-Cola Enterprises to eliminate overrider and promotional payments to wholesalers ­ Hunt said: "Some suppliers obviously feel compelled to review their pricing strategies. "This is done in the expectation of even lower selling prices, but it means there is nothing left to support brands in the marketplace. "Moves to cut or remove overriders and investment are clearly against our interests," he continued. "About 40% of wholesalers' gross profit, and up to 100% of their net profit, is based on retrospective income. We must retain the status quo ­ any changes to this investment will severely impact on wholesalers' future." Hunt recounted examples of cash and carry and delivered wholesalers working on margins of much less than 2%, while manufacturers typically worked on at least 8%. "If current levels of margin in some sectors were repeated in all categories, wholesalers and independent retailers would go out of business," maintained Hunt. "Retailers and wholesalers have to invest to survive, so we all have to be vigilant to protect members from any erosion in margins." Despite these concerns, Hunt reported an "excellent" set of results for the group in the past year. Of the group's top 40 suppliers ­ which account for 80 per cent of its income ­ Today's experienced growth with 30. And, despite the independent trade's increased emphasis on impulse and licensed categories, many of the best performing suppliers operated in the grocery sector. The group outperformed its competitors with most suppliers, Hunt claimed, and had also started dealing with 53 new manufacturers in the past year. {{NEWS }}