Landmark’s John Mills: wholesalers need to explore new horizons

At Landmark’s annual conference in Alicante, managing director John Mills (below) emphasised the need to build a long-term growth strategy. After the event he spoke to Cash & Carry Management’s managing editor Kirsti Sharratt.

The NASA spacecraft New Horizons, launched in 2006, is not only the fastest to have been propelled away from Earth but also the first to explore Pluto and the Kuiper Belt.

What relevance does that have to Landmark Wholesale? Managing director John Mills explained: “To set out on a mission like that required vision, investment, resources, fantastic technology, advanced thinking and other attributes like hope, ambition and patience.

“In our own changing and consolidating market place, we need to look to new horizons and have that kind of vision too – we need to be calm and build a strategy for growth that is 10 or 20 years out. We can’t keep doing the same things and expect different results.”

It was this point that Mills was keen to impress on the 180 delegates at the group’s recent conference in Alicante. Alongside this he highlighted some of the opportunities available to members, suppliers and customers arising from changing consumer habits:

• Premiumisation.

• ‘Craft’ and local products.

• Food to go. “We are still massively under-indexing on food to go in the independent retail sector – it accounts for 13% in independent stores (and is declining) versus 20% in the managed multiple convenience chains (him!). We only have to look at Spar or visit convenience chains in Ireland to see it being done well,” said Mills.

• Health & wellbeing. “When I walk round cash & carries I see the same old ranges. Suppliers are coming to us with new and interesting things – we have to have a health & wellbeing section to influence retailers,” he maintained.

“We need to be brave and go for these opportunities. As a central group, we have to be better with new product launches and relaunches,” he admitted. “We have to make sure we get in early, understand the supplier’s objectives, have the right support package and make sure that members know about it.

“We also need our wholesalers to encourage retailers to use our core range planograms and the training packages we offer with Bolt Learning. We know they work – we recently did a big one on wine, and Raj Kaur, a Lifestyle Express retailer in Kilbirnie, Ayrshire, said at the conference that her wine sales had increased by 18% as a result of doing the training and revamping her range.”

Having a retailer speak at the event was a first for Landmark; also new for this year was a panel session, chaired by James Lowman, chief executive of ACS (Association of Convenience Stores), and featuring James Bielby, chief executive of the FWD, Jill Livesey, managing director of him!, Matt Goddard, wholesale trading director of PepsiCo, and Marcus Singh, director of Hyperama. They discussed issues such as pricemarked packs, use of data, social media and the need for collaborative working.

On the subject of working in partnership, Mills spoke about Landmark’s relationship with Fairway Foodservice, which joined the group in January. “Fairway has terms with catering frozen food suppliers that it is bringing to the table, while we are able to offer terms for branded groceries. We are also looking at our respective catering own-label ranges to see where there are duplications and gaps, and we plan to tender together, albeit under the two different presentations.

“The reason for having associate members – like Fairway, Country Range and Confex – is to try to leverage our buying ability. There are nine buying groups in food and drink wholesaling and I don’t think there is a future for nine. We are working on a number of projects and I would be disappointed if I don’t come up with another move this year,” he said, concluding with an appropriate conference-themed quip: “Watch this space!”

Tel: Landmark Wholesale (01908) 255300


Published Date: June 1, 2018
Category: Wholesale Industry News