The wholesale market can be a cut-throat business if you don’t have the finances or capacity to turn over the necessary volumes of product, but for the owners of Direct Wholesale Marketing there has been no looking back.
When Yunus Sahin and business partner Tolga Gokce started their first catering equipment venture 15 years ago, it was a distribution business called Superequip, selling direct to foodservice operators.
But the pair quickly came to realise that their future lay not in distribution but in wholesale, and more specifically the wholesaling of commercial refrigeration equipment. Direct Wholesale Marketing (DWM) was formed with a trade-only sales policy and the rest, as they say, is history.
One might presume, quite understandably, that generating business from the very people it was previously in competition with would be a thankless task, but Sahin insists it was not as difficult as it sounds.
“When we decided to go into the wholesale side we stopped selling direct as a distributor straight away. It all happened pretty quickly, we told people and they were okay with it. Also, if you are a distributor yourself then this sort of scenario usually only affects the town that you are in — other people are not really in direct competition with you.”
Sahin and Gokce have always had links with the hospitality industry, working at the restaurant end of the market initially before progressing into catering equipment manufacture for a period.
For many years now, though, their focus has been on the sale of cold storage solutions through the distributor channel. “Refrigeration is 90% of the business and then we also offer a rangeof catering equipment,” reveals Sahin.
Although it doesn’t manufacture its own brands, DWM is the sole UK distributor of established Polish brand Igloo. It supplements that line with a wide range of kit sourced mainly from China, Italy and Turkey. The portfolio is vast; indeed its product catalogue is 80 pages long, packed with counters, displays, freezers, uprights, coolers and retail refrigeration units.
It has just added a new range of patisserie displays called Cube that are available in the UK market for the first time, while on the Igloo front the latest machines come with new energy efficient compressors and LED lighting as standard.
Brands such as Artikold, Alaska, Jamaica, Rota and Tobi will be well-known by distributors familiar with the company, which is based in Leeds and employs around 10 people. The emphasis is most definitely on making the offering larger, according to Sahin.
“We have been expanding the range and we will be expanding it further in future,” he says. “At the moment we have some new serve-over counters that we have brought into the market with a new shape and price range, and we are hoping that will lead us to develop a bigger share of the market.”
As far as serve-overs are concerned, the company has a new range called Sumba, which has been designed to appeal to trend-led foodservice operators, as well as a hot and cold series called Gastroline, which the company believes offers a novel approach to buffet distribution.
When you wholesale that variety of kit, it is essential that you have the infrastructure to support it. DWM carries more than £500,000 worth of stock and Sahin says it is vital the company makes that investment given distributors often want immediate access to kit.
“We have grown our stock levels so that we can supply the market whenever the product is needed, otherwise it forces customers to wait and you lose the sale. We have plans to enlarge it further and that might happen in 2015. We are evaluating different sites at the moment and the aim is that we will be able to hold a larger variety of stock and more of it, and hopefully we can provide more products quickly to the market.”
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Like wholesalers of any product, Sahin acknowledges that the advent of internet sales has altered the game completely. But rather than protesting, he believes it is all part of market evolution and you just need to learn to adapt to survive.
“The whole structure of everything has been changed by the internet. Everything needs to move quicker, customer types change — not so much for us but for the people selling the product on, and they have to be more price competitive. Distribution-wise, everything needs to be a lot faster nowadays. It requires us to hold more stock, which is one of the reasons why we need to expand all the time as a wholesaler.
“That said, there are not many different wholesalers that come into the market often because you’ve got to hold a lot of stock. Only people who were set up to do this before or who have lots of cash can do this because it is a matter of buying in and selling out.”
DWM currently trades with around 200 core customers, some of which are placing orders several days a week and others who are more infrequent. Sahin insists the company has been able to demonstrate growth during some difficult times in recent years. “We have been growing ever since we started on the wholesale side — between 10% and 20%, I’d say. And even during the recession we grew — not by as much but we did! But we still regard it as a success.”
DWM’s ambition is to continue its ascent now that market conditions are improving and, as well as expanding its inventory, the firm intends to strengthen its after-sales support activities. Above all else, Sahin wants distributors to have the peace of mind that when they deal with DWM they will get the correct warranty back-up and price.
“We are hoping to employ more engineers so that we can be quicker with our responses and we are also talking to the servicing companies about holding parts for us to help with this. We currently hold parts ourselves but sometimes if the order is going to an engineer in London, for example, it can reduce the response time. We want to speed things up.”
And he makes no secret of the firm’s ambition: “We want to become the market leader as far as the wholesale of this sort of equipment is concerned — that is what we are trying to achieve and it involves improving our service side as well as obviously the sales and distribution.”
DWM has come a long way in the last few years. But as far as the company’s owners are concerned, it still has a lot more to offer.
Name: Direct Wholesale Marketing (DWM)
Address: Unit 26, Millshaw Industrial Estate, Millshaw Park Drive, Leeds, LS11 0LR
Telephone: 08456 444906
Focus: Wholesale of commercial refrigeration and serve-over counters, as well as catering equipment.