‘Sugro is probably the most stable buying group’ – MD Neil Turton

With growth in sales of 20% so far this year – and a 49% rise in March alone – Sugro is on an upward trajectory thanks in part to strong leadership that has given the group greater stability.

Neil Turton: ‘We are proud to be growing and expect to grow more in 2021.’

Managing director Neil Turton resigned from Sugro at the start of 2020 but agreed with the board to remain in the post during the COVID-19 crisis and later confirmed that he intended to stay on.

“I’m here for good now – or for as long as they will have me!” he reiterated at the group’s virtual conference today (11 May). “Stability is important. It was lack of stability that caused Sugro some issues a couple of years ago and we now have that stability back.

“Ironically, we are probably the most stable buying group out there now, and that brings new members to us, gives suppliers the confidence to invest from a trading point of view, and helps me to build a team in Nantwich [Sugro HQ] that is confident about the future of the organisation and motivated on a day-to-day basis.”

Turton continued: “In April last year, when the pandemic hit, our sales fell by 24% and we were really quite worried about what the year would bring. However, through the resilience of our members and suppliers, we ended the year at +12%, which is an achievement we’re really pleased with.

“In fact, because of new suppliers joining Sugro and our push into grocery for the first time, the amount of business going through our total organisation in terms of the overrrider schemes grew by 20%. That bodes well for the future as we diversify from our traditional confectionery, soft drinks and snacks base into new categories.”

Since the start of 2019, Sugro has gained more than 40 new supplier partners as a result of its diversification into toiletries and household goods, as well as groceries. It has also welcomed 12 new members, adding £176 million worth of turnover to take its total group turnover to £1.46 billion.

Sugro now has 80 wholesaler affiliates – 62 full members and 18 Acorn members – and all are family businesses. “I think that Sugro hits the sweet spot for wholesalers of between £5 million and £75 million of turnover,” said Turton. “Where in other groups they may be less of a priority, in Sugro they are really looked after. We like to stay close to them and the same applies to our suppliers as well.

“These are the traditional values on which Sugro was built, and if we can align these values with a really effective commercial strategy – delivering the objectives that suppliers want and using modern techniques in digital marketing – then I think that Sugro will have a bright future.”

He added: “We are looking to the future in all sorts of different ways – for example, our digital app is driving new business; we are helping our members become ecommerce enabled; we are working with TWC on how we best use our data; and we are looking to use our strengths and community spirit within Sugro to bring in new members as well.”

Some members are reporting that up to 30% of their total sales are now going through the digital platform, and Sugro’s focus on B2B and B2C digitalisation will continue, said head of trading & marketing Yulia Petitt.

She also highlighted the group’s Sample Box initiative and partnership with Enable – which will allow members to track their own overrider earnings against maximum targets set by suppliers – as developments that offer added value to member wholesalers.

Sugro has also embarked on a new project focusing on procurement services, working in partnership with Hawtrey Dene to improve the quality and return on investment for members across a range of categories including insurance, utilities, logistics, and security, reported business development manager Tabitha Hunter-Smale.

Hawtrey Dene will conduct individual reviews for members, as well as looking into group buying opportunities. Sugro plans to sign up three to four of its members to trial the initiative and will present case studies at its autumn conference before rolling out the service to the whole membership.

Concluding the presentations, Turton said: “In the wholesale world, we may not be the biggest but we certainly try to be the best. We have had a really great start to 2021. We are proud to be growing and expect to grow more in 2021.”

• More than 800 meetings are booked between members and suppliers as part of Sugro’s virtual conference.

Tel: Sugro UK (01270) 628728

Published Date: May 11, 2021
Category: Wholesale Industry News