In July, UK speciality and fine foods wholesaler and distributor Cotswold Fayre launched its first retail site, The Flourish Foodhall & Kitchen in Somerset.

The 2,000 sq ft food hall boasts a 40ft butchery, cheese and deli counter focusing on local produce.

The hospitality offer comprises of three main elements. An open kitchen, seating for over 100 customers internally and a further 40 seats on an alfresco terrace.

High-end wholesale retail

All ambient and packaged chilled goods come from Cotswold Fayre’s existing range. The business does not operate at any other sites, so this food hall functions as a showroom for wholesale customers. This provides a shopping and dining experience for consumers. As a result, a test bed for prospective products for a wholesale range.

However, Cotswold Fayre isn’t the first UK high end wholesaler to launch a consumer-facing store. Infinity Foods, based in Sussex, started life in 1970 as a macrobiotic café! This lead to a demand for the ingredients featured in dishes on the menu. The shop opened the following year, with the wholesale side of the business following 14 years later. It is now one of the UK’s leading national and international distributors of high quality organic, biodynamic, fairtrade and natural products.

The other end of the wholesale retail spectrum!

We see Russian discounter Mere starting to open sites in the UK where the experience is more akin to a wholesale environment. There is minimal communication or signage in a plain, barely branded warehouse. The products are presented in large sizes, on pallets with prices clearly shown and rarely any additional information.

Therefore, customers benefit from low pricing; the trade off for this being they’ll have to do alot of the unboxing from pallets themselves. While it won’t suit everyone, the simplicity is compelling and easy for customers to understand where the discount comes from.

Our team at CADA is currently talking to two wholesale operators, one in mainland Europe, one in South East Asia. We are looking at how to bridge the gap between large footprint, traditional B2B wholesale environments and the changing needs and expectations of those business customers that are becoming more consistent with a B2C retail experience.

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