Local accountants and solicitors aid merger of multi-billion pound wholesale buying groups

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Members of wholesale buying groups Landmark Wholesale and Today’s Group recently voted for the groups to merge, with 96% of those who voted in favour of the merger going ahead. The deal was facilitated by East Midlands accountants Duncan & Toplis and Lincolnshire solicitors Wilkin Chapman.

Uniting under the name of Unitas Wholesale Ltd, the new company will be dedicated to supporting independent wholesalers who, in turn, support thousands of independent retailers and small businesses.

Damon Brain, director at Duncan & Toplis said: “We’re extremely proud to have played a part in this deal. Today’s Group and Landmark Wholesale knew that enhancing scale was the right move but needed some guidance on how to make it happen.

“We were presented with the challenge of piecing together a huge jigsaw but from the outset we supported the belief that the two companies are an excellent fit and our team made an extraordinary effort to make this happen. It’s great to have been a part of setting the stage for the future of these two firms.”

Partner and Head of Corporate and Commercial at Wilkin Chapman solicitors Russell Eke, and his team, acted for Today’s Wholesale when it parted company with what was then called Nisa-Today’s back in 2012 and were pleased to deliver the major deal.

Russell said: “Unitas Wholesale now moves forward with a fantastic opportunity to improve efficiency and services for members and suppliers. With increased competition from the multinationals in this sector, it was vital we moved forward within the tight timescales set and I am delighted, for all concerned, that this was achieved.”

Reflecting on the merger in a joint statement, John Mills, managing director at Landmark Wholesale and Darren Goldney, managing director at Today’s Group said:

“We are absolutely delighted that our members voted to merge the two groups. Through enhanced scale, relevance and capability, Unitas Wholesale will be the sustainable wholesale business partner for its supplier base, creating an alternative route to market in the face of the consolidation that is taking place within the wholesale sector.”

The merger will formally complete on 31 October 2018. By then both groups will have been through a period of consultation and selection with management and staff and will have announced the structure to support the new company.

Current 2018 joint business agreements between the two groups and suppliers will remain in place until the end of the calendar year. The Unitas Wholesale trading team will commence discussions with suppliers regarding 2019 terms once the merger has completed, with operational alignment occurring throughout 2019 via a process of integration.

“The creation of Unitas Wholesale offers an incredible opportunity to support independent businesses and enable them to thrive,” concluded Mills and Goldney.

“Unitas will also create a new and exciting opportunity for suppliers, independent wholesalers and the thousands of independent businesses that we collectively serve.”

The new organisation will have a combined turnover in excess of £8bn.

Sam Wilcox will become Unitas Wholesale Chairman and Simon Hannah of JW Filshill, Deputy Chairman.

“We are delighted to announce the appointment of Darren Goldney as Managing Director and John Mills as Deputy Managing Director,” said Wilcox. “Darren and John have worked hard and collaboratively over recent months to cut through previous organisational differences and focus on the vision and strategy that will work for both groups’ members and suppliers in the long term and both Boards thank them. Their complementary range of skills will be vital to drive our development agenda and bring the great experiences of both organisations together to form a new one.”

Wilcox continued: “We are also pleased to announce the balance of the management executive. Andrew Thewlis is appointed as Finance Director, John Baines as Trading Director and John Kinney as Retail Director. All three bring fabulous experience, knowledge, skills and above all, they possess the determination to make Unitas a huge success.”

John Schofield, Finance Director for Today’s Group has taken the decision to retire from the business in May 2019. “John has a long and distinguished track record of success with Nisa and Today’s Group and through that journey he has gained huge respect from members, suppliers and staff,” said Darren Goldney. “We are delighted that John has agreed to act as Transformation Director from the formation of Unitas until he leaves in May 2019.”

In addition to the executive directors, the new Unitas Wholesale Board will be made up of eight member directors from each group ensuring all channels and business types are represented. A full list of member directors is below. All appointments are effective from 1 November 2018.

Unitas Wholesale Ltd Member Board Directors

Sony Bihal, Time Wholesale Services (UK) Ltd

Jim Cummiskey, Failte Foods Ltd

Manish Dhamecha, Dhamecha Foods Ltd

Simon Hannah, J W Filshill Limited

George Hepburn, JWG plc

Chris Hughes, Regal Wholesale Ltd

Kali Mulchandani, Imperial Cash & Carry Ltd

Nick Ramsden, DB Ramsden & Co Ltd

Amaan Ramzan, United Wholesale Grocers Ltd

James Russell, Blakemore Wholesale

Asim Sarwar, United Wholesale (Scotland) Ltd

Marcus Singh, Hyperama plc

Greg Suszczenia, AG Parfetts & Sons Ltd

Jay Suterwalla, Sutaka UK Ltd

Andrew Wild, Wilds of Oldham

Don Wouhra, East End Foods plc