Bestway top boss slams suppliers giving priority to supermarkets


Pervez said that wholesalers, who provide convenience stores with “canned fish, canned fruit, baked beans, soup, eggs, flour, rice, pasta, Calpol, par¬acetamol, Dettol, surface cleaners and that kind of stuff”, are not getting the quantities that they need from their tradi¬tional suppliers who he said are “unfairly giving priority to the supermarkets” (Photo: ISABEL INFANTES/AFP via Getty Images).
Pervez said that wholesalers, who provide convenience stores with “canned fish, canned fruit, baked beans, soup, eggs, flour, rice, pasta, Calpol, par¬acetamol, Dettol, surface cleaners and that kind of stuff”, are not getting the quantities that they need from their tradi¬tional suppliers who he said are “unfairly giving priority to the supermarkets” (Photo: ISABEL INFANTES/AFP via Getty Images).

By Amit Roy

THE managing director of Bestway Wholesale, Dawood Pervez, said that 40,000 cornershops and convenience stores in the UK have a “vital and valu­able” role to play in looking after vul­nerable and older customers who would much rather do their shopping locally with them than risk going to crowded supermarkets during the time of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, Pervez said that wholesalers, who provide convenience stores with “canned fish, canned fruit, baked beans, soup, eggs, flour, rice, pasta, Calpol, par­acetamol, Dettol, surface cleaners and that kind of stuff”, are not getting the quantities that they need from their tradi­tional suppliers who he said are “unfairly giving priority to the supermarkets”.

Pervez argued that the suppliers need to understand the changes taking place in shopping habits and not force older and more vulnerable customers to go to su­permarkets because they cannot get what that need locally.

Pervez, whose father Sir Anwar Pervez set up the Bestway group having started with a lone cornershop, explained how the supply chains have been disrupted by the current crisis.

He told Eastern Eye: “We should be talking about how amazing a job the 40,000 plus independent retailers in the UK are doing. They are serving local com­munities, delivering products to the el­derly and vulnerable.

“When the panic started, everyone went to their multiple retailers and stripped the shelves bare – they were car­rying only a couple of days’ stock. That then fuelled the panic even more and the people started going back to their local stores,” he said.

“In wholesale, we carry a lot of stuff – we carry usually a month or more – and we were ok for the first week or so. But then we found suppliers started cancel­ling lots of our orders and short giving us. Our shelves were not empty but in a really bad state.”

With the introduction of social distanc­ing, “people are more likely to go local, less likely to travel. It’s preferable to not go to a big place with lots of people. For multiple retailers not only has their de­mand flattened out year on year – now actually in the bigger stores it is down, negative, and that’s exactly what hap­pened in Italy, France and Spain – but there’s still a lot of focus being put on get­ting them back in stock.

“What suppliers have done is looked at normal proportion of sales for Septem­ber, October, November, December, Janu­ary and February and said, ‘Okay, out of every 100 cans 10 to convenience, 90 to multiple retails’. But the reality is that since March and during this lockdown it is not 10-90, it is 20-80. The amount of sales going through the local stores has massively jumped. To provide that channel with stock based on the old profile is completely inappro­priate,” he said.

“The pattern of shopping has changed. That’s the point. The suppliers need to understand that change and work with it.”

Pervez esti­mated that of the 40,000 con­venience stores in the UK now, 30,000 have acquired some of what they require from Bestway Wholesale in the last four weeks. “They get very frustrated when they cannot get what they want,” Pervez stressed.

Pervez also believes convenience stores could have contributed to deliver­ing food parcels to vulnerable people. “Some of them are already doing five to 10 deliveries per day, seven days a week.”

Instead, the government has engaged catering companies to do the job, with community volunteers making the deliv­eries to the people.

He is not criticising the scheme, but said the big suppliers “took it upon them­selves to prioritise supply into central warehouses for these packages for the vulnerable. And I believe they took the entire volume out of the volume they would have given to wholesalers. Wholesalers specialise in supplying to 40,000 convenience stores who are already servicing those very vul­nerable people. So, the government are confusing supply chains.

“They keep forgetting there are 40,000 independent retailers operating within communities and they are actually deal­ing with those communities. They al­ready make a million deliveries a week.”

Pervez said: “The government needs to understand that proximity retailers are the primary local operators – no one seems to have harnessed or leveraged convenience retailing.”