Debbie Rowland Sales Manager Charcroft ElectronicsDebbie Rowland, Sales Manager, Charcroft Electronics

Customer choice and flexibility will be eroded in 2013 with the number of specialist independent distributors reducing as broadline distributors acquire them to gain the specialist knowledge to address niche, vertical markets.

The potential impact of this is reflected in the retail sector: High Streets have been transformed from an eclectic mix of local retailers into clones which offer the same national chains in towns across the UK. Just like the supermarkets, with their in-store butchers, bakers and fish merchants, broadline distributors will market their acquisitions as specialist divisions. Both supermarkets and broadliners are also primarily focussed on high volume rather than on high service and specialist product knowledge.

The result could be that, with the exception of a handful of specialist independents such as Charcroft, customers’ traditional choice of a broadline, specialist and catalogue or online distributor, will be reduced to a simple choice between broadline or online.