Speaking at Swift Electrical's Trade Event to celebrate Belling's 100 years trading, Chairman of Swift Electrical, Andrew Swift said distributors offer too many brands. Andrew Swift commented: “If you go back 10-15 years, then all the established distributors stood for a couple of products. This distributor would be known for that brand. Through a process of various manufacturers merging, distributors merging, we have all ended up, in terms of appliances, selling everything. I think the worry is that nobody particularly stands for anything”.
He said specialisation may be key for the future success of the distribution chain, stating: “I think what you may see is that distributors will start to specialise a bit more in terms of brands. I think if we narrowed the offering down a bit, and did everything from sales and marketing to stocking in more depth; maybe we’d serve the industry a bit better.”
He continued: “If you ask us where we are going to be in three to five years time, I hope to be more of less doing what we are doing now, but slightly more successfully.”
Andrew Swift hit out at critics who believe there is no longer a role for distribution in the industry: “I think distributors are here for the reasons they have always been here. We act as a useful source of credit. It is probably our most important function”.
And he says independent retailers need to combat pressures on appliance margin because of online trading, by maintaining high levels of customer service. Swift added: “I’ve been in this job just over twenty years now and I think retailers all believe distributors make the same margin they do on appliances, which we don’t. So certainly retailer margins have been eroded because of the internet, but inevitably that does have a knock-on effect on us. But that’s business. The battle ground will boil down to what it always boils down to, which is service.”
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