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Strong relationships light the way ahead

The time to demand a budget and and dictate the running of a store has passed

“You’re from the dark side.” This is how I was recently addressed during dinner with a group of well-respected buyers. Being the only member from wholesale (aka the dark side) I was not about to enter a discussion as to which side should be referred to as the dark side.

I decided to take the opportunity to understand why we wholesalers have developed reputations that can only be compared with that other sales professional - the estate agent.

Following the economic crisis, I’ve talked with various wholesalers outraged by demands placed upon them mostly from store groups - demands that not even one of the Dragons’ Den would have the cojones to make.

During the dinner, I listened to the discussion around the table and I begun to appreciate the views expressed. Cringe-worthy is how to describe the tactics of some of my contemporaries. Some of them need a reality check - the past 10 years have been fruitful, but except for certain elite brands, the time to demand a budget, dictate budget spend and dictate the running of a store to a retailer has passed.

It is a buyer’s market now and we have to work for our money. It amazes me that there are wholesalers that don’t visit clients or drive sales. The irony is that these same people probably made a deal months earlier and disappeared to the Caribbean in season, leaving the retailer to fend for themselves, before reappearing months later and, shock horror, facing having to write a big cheque due to poor performance.

From my humble beginnings as a travelling salesman it was made clear to me that the key to this job is personal relationships, which lead to strong business partnerships. This is relevant now more than ever.

Gianni Georgiades is the commercial director of lifestyle brand John Richmond UK

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