Dave Proudlock, the manager of ­Lowries' Cash and Carry depot in Killingworth, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, is a Newcastle FC supporter.

However, watching the team

play recently has been agonising given their run of bad form so it's just as well that he has another

interest: exhibiting prize-winning leeks. "I've been growing leeks for more than 30 years," he says. "My

father got me into it."

That hobby hasn't infiltrated the business - fresh produce isn't stocked at Killingworth - but Proudlock is just as passionate about the other categories on offer there.

Among them is wine, which is undergoing a radical overhaul. "We have doubled space in the wine aisle and there is ongoing activity to develop a fine wine range," says Proudlock. "The launch is on 1 September and we are sampling products from suppliers.

"The complete range will consist of 70-80 lines, including the 30-40 already stocked."

He says room for the wines is being created by axing slow-selling lines in other categories.

Proudlock is also looking at introducing a range of locally sourced products in the next two months in partnership with Northumbria Larder, the regional food group. "Three or four years ago, customers wouldn't accept the premium paid for these products," he says. "Now they are much more prepared to as food miles and quality have become buzzwords. I hate to say it, but the supermarkets have paved the way."

Catering is another core area of development for Killingworth, as it is for many cash and carries. "We have just appointed a catering supervisor to talk to customers and find out what they're looking for," says Proudlock. "If there is one area we are focusing on more than anything else, it's caterers and on-trade customers. We have been reluctant to chase the wine bar trade in the past but this is something on which we intend to concentrate."

The expanded fine wine range will go some way to attracting these customers, he says.

Little is changing on the tobacco fixture. But Proudlock says that there has been a considerable uplift in sales in the category primarily as a result of Customs officers cracking down on local gangs selling bootleg and counterfeit tobacco.

As the Killingworth depot grows its sales and develops various categories, the recent introduction of Sword's stock management software from Sanderson has been a real help. "We installed it in February and it has so many advantages," says Proudlock. "We can do gap analysis and perpetual stock audits. We can use radio frequency scanner guns to scan on-shelf barcodes and call up current stock levels and sales data immediately."

Outside category development, since Lowries is a member of the Landmark buying group, the depot is working on boosting the number of retail customers in its Premier Club. Members, of whom there are 68 so far, get special promotional deals. "We will be able to recruit ten more this year and we have plans to add to that," says Proudlock.

If he invests as much in the business as he does in his interest in leeks, there's no reason why he shouldn't hit all his targets.