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It has been announced that the 'retail' division of the collapsed Conviviality wholesale group has been bought from the administrators for £7,250,000 by Bestway Direct Ltd, the delivery arm of Bestway Wholesale.  The acquired businesses include the Bargain Booze off licence franchise operation, as well as the Wine Rack and Central Convenience retail chains.

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Leading UK independent food and grocery wholesaler, Bestway has reported its annual figures for the year to 30 June 2017, showing sales down 2.2% to £2,130m.  Performance was impacted above all by the sector-wide decline in tobacco sales.  With tobacco excluded, sales were up 1.9%.  Pre-tax profit rose to £23.2m.

Symbol group showing strong growth

Bestway's Best-one symbol group has expanded rapidly in recent years, and now has around 1,500 member stores.  Wholesale sales to the group have grown proportionately, up 12.9% over the 12 months and 19.7% across non-tobacco categories.

Online sales above £300m

Bestway's online ordering platform now has 62,000 registered users (over 60% of its total customer base), and sales through it rose by 12%, averaging £26m a month.  Mobile ordering through its app is growing ahead of online as a whole, accounting for nearly 25% of all transactions, compared to 15% in the previous period.

Martin Race, Managing Director, Bestway Wholesale commented:

'These latest set of results puts Bestway Wholesale back on track after a year of investment in 2015/16.  We have seen customer satisfaction scores, promotional sales and margins all increase, while following our strategic commitment to operate for less.'


IGD Convenience Retailing Summit 2018


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Now the second largest retail channel wholesaler in the UK market, Bestway has gained significant benefit in early 2018 from the collapse of competitor Palmer & Harvey in November 2017.

60 symbol stores recruited in February

In one month alone, Bestway's symbol group Best-one has signed up 60 new member stores from retailers leaving the Costcutter network, having stepped into provide supply when P&H failed.  Though Costcutter now has a wholesale deal agreed with Co-op, the launch of actual deliveries is rolling out only slowly through the Nisa distribution platform.  In the meantime many Costcutter retailers (including those trading as Mace) continue to depend on interim solutions such as Bestway, with numbers now making the decision to switch permanently.

Best-one now at c1,500 stores

The Best-one symbol group has been one of the fastest growing in the UK market in recent years, boosted by the low costs of membership, and also by the increasing capability of Bestway in servicing the wider needs of convenience retailers, especially in chilled and fresh categories.  Bestway has now doubled the size of its Coventry chilled distribution centre to help keep pace with rising volume demands in this area.

Bestway Vans Direct now operating 190 vehicles

Having effectively taken over the the Palmer & Harvey direct-to-store sales operation, with the acquisition of its van fleet, Bestway is now operating van sales for both snacks and confectionery.  With 120 vans dedicated to snacks and 70 to confectionery Bestway is calling on a growing number of retailers at two week intervals, bringing a category solution for each product area to their doors.  The roll-out of the new Bestway Vans Direct identity and van livery is planned to drive greater awareness, and further uptake, amongst former P&H customers.


IGD Convenience Retailing Summit 2018


26-27 September, London


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Aiming to fill one of the gaps left in the UK route-to-market by the collapse of Palmer & Harvey, major cash & carry operator Bestway is launching a van sales division, to create a direct-to-store service in key categories such as snacks and confectionery for independent retailers.

Targeting 'go-live' within weeks

Bestway is seeking to have the new division operational within a matter of weeks to offer a rapid replacement for Palmer & Harvey's Snacks/Sweet Direct business.  To do this Bestway has acquired P&H's former fleet of 180 vans from the administrators, PwC, as well as bringing in the P&H van sales head, Noel Robinson, to lead the operation.  Bestway is also seeking to re-employ numbers of P&H drivers to staff the vans.  The vans will be based at existing Bestway cash & carry depots, providing the supply and infrastructure needed.

P&H vans sales turnover was £108m in 2016

Van sales had been a focus for development in the last few years of Palmer & Harvey, giving it the opportunity to build incremental sales on top of its core delivered wholesale business.  As well as offering snacks and confectionery through separate fleets of vans, P&H had also experimented with putting other categories 'on the road' such as bakery and beers, wines & spirits.

Martin Race, Managing Director, Bestway Wholesale commented:

'We feel the launch of this new service to customers will be a great fit for us in delivering our future growth plans and building on our already close relationships with our customers. ... We feel we will be able to drive operational efficiencies by running the van sales business out of our existing network of depots.'


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