Major multi-platform wholesaler, AF Blakemore has announced that it is to sell its cash & carry division, Blakemore Wholesale. Comprising 12 trading locations across Wales, the Midlands and the North-East, Blakemore Wholesale is the fourth largest cash & carry chain in the UK market by number of sites. In the last year Blakemore has already closed one cash & carry and sold another in a drive to manage under-performance.
Proceeds to be reinvested to drive wider business
In its statement AF Blakemore indicates that the move away from cash & carry will allow the company to invest further across its wider business, and focus its future strategy upon its remaining divisions, as it continues to drive innovation within the retail and wholesale distribution sectors. The core of the Blakemore business will remain focused on its position as the largest single SPAR wholesale distributor and retailer within the UK market, while in recent years, the business has also achieved significant growth through its foodservice operation and specialist food divisions.
Few obvious 'trade' buyers for the full network
Though the UK cash & carry market includes two major national players, Booker (now owned by Tesco) and Bestway, neither seems likely to be a bidder for the whole estate of 12 Blakemore depots. With their well-established networks of existing depots both these businesses are primarily focused on developing and driving sales online rather than through bricks and mortar. However, Bestway, along with other larger regional players, might seem potential candidates for taking individual sites where a clear opportunity for infill exists.
The largest single member of Landmark
The sale of Blakemore Wholesale is likely to create some uncertainty for the Landmark buying group, of which it has been a long-term member. In particular the loss of some or all of Blakemore's cash & carry's will reduce Landmark's representation in retail channel wholesaling, further tipping the balance within the group towards a foodservice focus. Both the Blakemore Foodservice and Wholesale Distribution divisions will stay in AF Blakemore ownership, and remain as Landmark members.