janfrontWelcome to the January Grocery Trader. We’d like to wish all our readers a very Happy New Year. The Christmas/New Year break is over: time to brace up for a tough year, with more than just snow on the horizon. There’s the impact of the VAT hike to 20%, and the shock as businesses and consumers alike feel the pain of the ‘Con-Dem’ Coalition cuts.



If we’re going to come through, it’s time to cut the waffle and get down to work. Hopefully along the way we’ll still manage to enjoy what we’re doing – life’s too short for anything else.

To inspire you, we have major features on Bibby Consulting & Support – the Health & Safety and Employment Law experts: FIS Merchant Payments, the payments services providers: STEVENS Group, specialists in IT-based weighing systems: and Training for Success, experts in minimising corporate threats such as fraud, theft and violent assaults against staff.

In this tough environment, it can be hard for senior managers to justify the financial commitment of long-term contracts for advice on Health & Safety and Employment Law and other professional support services. Outsourcing these services from Bibby Consulting & Support is a cost-effective and protective option for the retail and food sector to meet the ongoing requirements of compliance with legislation.

FIS Merchant Payments has been enabling retailers and other merchants to accept different payments for over 25 years. The company now processes card payments, Direct Debits, retail credit agreements, fuel cards, gift cards and trade account cards, in addition to traditional cheque services.

The STEVENS brand has been synonymous with excellence in industrial weighing equipment for over 160 years. Today the STEVENS Group provides recipe formulation, stock, portion control, checkweighing and traceability systems to blue chip companies across the UK, USA, Australasia and Europe to help ensure compliance with the BRC Storage & Distribution Standard and equivalent benchmarks.

Finally, Training For Success’s training schemes and consultancy services are key in equipping companies to deal with external threats. Their impressive retail client list includes Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Wilkinson and Morrisons.

We’ve also got features on Ethnic Food & Drink, Baby & Kids and Big Night In. Brits are a plucky lot: even in tough times we grab the chance to enjoy a Big Night In with family and friends. Similarly, as anyone with a family at home will confirm, Baby and Kids remains a market where parents go on spending in thick times and in thin.

On the Ethnic Food & Drink front, every incoming population has brought its share of enterprising merchants keen to supply their community with food and drink they know from home. The biggest success stories are the products that cross over into the mainstream and win the hearts of the Brit consumer.

So to end, we’d like to commemorate the passing of a major figure in the UK ethnic foods scene, Patak’s co-founder, Shanta Gaury Pathak. Alongside her husband, Shanta was a pioneer of the food revolution that has helped make Indian cuisine one of Britain’s most popular dishes.

Have a happy and successful 2011.

Charles Smith, The Grocery Trader

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