Unitas Wholesale has defended its membership policy after five wholesalers announced their decision to leave the group.
The wholesalers – CK Wholesale Supplies, Holland Bazaar, O’Reillys, Quayside, and Rayburn Trading – are reported to have a combined turnover of £210 million.
Four of the departures relate to a policy introduced by Unitas in the summer that members cannot also be part of other buying groups.
O’Reillys, Quayside, and Rayburn Trading are members of Sugro and have chosen to stay with that group, while Holland Bazaar is said to be leaving Unitas to join Confex.
Their departures follow the split of Confex from Unitas in June, with a similar exit by Country Range Group announced in September.
Darren Goldney, managing director of Unitas, commented: “Unitas Wholesale is a member wholesaler owned group working hard to achieve the best and the broadest range of services and benefits for independent member wholesalers.
“This can only be achieved when we are the most effective route to market for suppliers. The members have agreed this is best achieved when everyone contributes and we are clearly operating as ‘one’, able to be straightforward with suppliers and fair to each other. This aligns our strength and fulfils the purpose of being a group.
“Where wholesale members are unable or unwilling to work together in this way, they may leave to join other groups who may not operate with the same principles and disciplines.
“Since its formation, Unitas Wholesale has also gained members who buy into this principle. The recent reported loss of five members was prompted by Unitas Wholesale and included several who utilised the buying group for some categories where the collective strength of other Unitas members helped them; however, they did not participate fully in some other areas where their contribution would help the wider membership, and also give fair clarity to suppliers as to what programmes they actually operate.
“While it is always disappointing when a wholesaler chooses to leave, the reported loss to the purchasing power of Unitas Wholesale was approximately 20 times exaggerated versus the reality for the reasons outlined above.
“Together our members form the largest buying group in the UK, with our focus to be our suppliers’ first choice business partner. To achieve this we all need to be heading in the same direction.”