Retailers voice concerns about Pallas Foods selling to the public  

The homepage of Pallas Foods' website states its new service can help members of the public avoid unnecessary supermarket trips

Local shopkeepers voice their dismay that wholesaler has decided to sell directly to the public through click and collect points across the country

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25 May 2020 | 0

A number of retailers have contacted ShelfLife to express their concerns over wholesaler Pallas Foods’ decision to sell directly to the general public via a ‘click and collect’ service online.

The food wholesaler is offering a ‘Order Today, Collect Tomorrow’ service to members of the public. Pallas Foods’ website states: “Ireland’s number one food wholesaler – now open to the general public. Avoid unnecessary supermarket trips with our contact-free, next day Click and Collect service.”

Unfair playing field

Vincent Jennings, CEO of the Convenience Stores and Newsagents Association (CSNA) told ShelfLife he was “gobsmacked” by the decision from a supplier to the trade to “set up in competition” with retailers.

“Retailers are competing in an ultra-competitive environment; we deserve all competitors to operate from a level playing field,” Jennings said.

While some retailers who spoke to us expressed surprise that a casual trading licence would have been granted in the locations listed, a spokeswoman for Dublin City Council confirmed to ShelfLife that a casual trading licence is not required in this situation. “Click and collect services do not come under casual trading legislation as the sale is not taking place in the public domain,” she said.

Limerick retailer Shane Gleeson said he was disappointed by the move by Pallas Foods and as a result has decided to “vote with [his] feet” and switch some of his purchases to other suppliers.

“If you’re going to compete with me, why would I buy off you?” he asks.

Point of conscience

Due to location, Gleeson’s business is not as badly affected as others closer to pick-up points. “They are operating beside a shopkeeper that I would be very friendly with,” he says. “Their delivery point is right beside him so on a point of conscience, I am supporting my fellow shopkeeper.

“I’m probably far enough away that it’s not affecting me terribly but some of my custom base does come from the area where they’re operating,” he adds.

“I’ve certainly seen customers of mine [there] so that’s upset me because it’s products that I might be selling. I don’t think that’s acceptable. It smacks of running with the hares and hunting with the hounds.”

Disquieting

Clontarf-based retailer Gus O’Hara, who says Pallas Foods “would have supplied into our business model” from a catering perspective, describes the wholesaler’s new venture as “disquieting”.

“They’re certainly not endearing themselves to retailers,” he tells ShelfLife.

Due to the fact there are no click and collect pick-up locations in Clontarf, he adds: “I don’t see myself being directly affected, but that doesn’t change the fact that those retailers who are directly affected, are being placed at an unfair disadvantage.

“This particular situation won’t last forever and I would then have a concern that Pallas Foods would start selling into the retail trade in the future,” he says. “I’d certainly be very concerned about that. I would have a definite attitude about how I would feel about that.”

O’Hara is unimpressed that any wholesaler would decide to take this path. “I have a very good fruit and veg wholesaler calling to me,” he says, “and I would just wonder how as a retailer, I would feel if that wholesaler decided to set up a van outside the store [and sell to my customers], click and collect or otherwise. It’s a very simple analogy here. Pallas may have a different view of it but I certainly would have concerns.”

As the wholesaler’s website shows, its pick-up van points are located in car parks right across the country. These include the following: Dublin – Parkwest; Cork – Little Island; Dublin – Kilmacud car park; Limerick – Newcastle West; Athlone – Woodville Road; Dublin – Airside Swords; Galway – The Huntsman; Limerick – Westward Ho, Mungret; Mullingar Park Hotel; Drogheda – The Glenside Hotel; Cavan – Cavan Crystal Hotel; Kilkenny – O’Loughlin Gaels car park; Waterford – Mount Sion, Ozanam Street; Castlebar – Breaffy House Resort; and Meath – Clonard, The Monastery Inn.

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