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Last edited 14 Sep 2020
Competition and the independent electric wholesalers
 Wholesale purchasing options
Many customers searching for domestic industrial or domestic electrical supplies may automatically default to a high street brand, but in doing so they could be unwittingly missing out on significant benefits. Not only does an independent wholesaler offer a highly personalised service, with an in-depth knowledge of each customer, their needs and business, they can also offer a range of specialist, competitively priced products – something many customers may be unaware of.
In 2020, independent wholesalers have a collective sales volume of circa £2.4billion in the UK – so they are continuing to play a vital role across the wholesale market. But what is being done to highlight the benefits of independent retailers and ensure they can compete with larger brands?
Since 1976, independent wholesalers across the country have been unified by the Association of Wholesale Electrical Bulk Buyers (AWEBB). AWEBB, which is run by Mark Lambert, has created a UK-wide network of competitively priced, highly trained and specialised independent wholesalers, which enables them to compete against the major brands.
As an electrical purchasing consortium, AWEBB encompasses over 230 branches across the UK and Ireland, which offer greater support to independents and even better flexibility and choice for the customer. This consortium enables independents to compete by strengthening their collective buying power and terms and conditions, to procure the most in-demand products at competitive prices from market-leading suppliers.
Due to its close and specialised relationship with independents nationwide, AWEBB is able to collaborate with them to fully understand their needs, issues and key customer bases. Ultimately this enhances their service and aids product development to maximise their offering.
However, independents are also flourishing thanks to their invaluable product knowledge, with local wholesalers able to offer the most relevant advice thanks to their unique understanding of their client base.
In order to ensure they are thoroughly informed, AWEBB members undergo rigorous training as part of its Future Fit programme. This is designed to develop staff skills to ensure they are fit for the future and ready to face industry challenges.
 Industry response
One of the most urgent issues facing independent wholesalers in 2020 is the adjustment to online demand due to the coronavirus pandemic. The consortium is now working to strengthen both traditional and online sales platforms, to ensure wholesalers can meet digital demand and benefit from altered customer buying trends.
One invaluable online tool which supports both customers and wholesalers is the organisation's member-owned ElectraCentre.co.uk. This website connects customers to AWEBB’s national network of independent wholesalers wherever they are in the country, providing them with invaluable local knowledge and the products they need on the go.
As the consortium’s national framework of branches, ElectraCentre also offers independents access to around 10,000 square feet of extra warehouse space and holds £600,000 worth of stock, enabling them to compete nationally.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Articles by the Electrical Contractors' Association (ECA).
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- Electrical appliance.
- Electrical component.
- Electrical system.
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