Accredited with record attendance at milestone trade show

Accredited Distributors held its 20th anniversary annual trade show at its Dandenong warehouse in late July

Jane Boler. 

In 1976, Terry Booth launched what would become Accredited Distributors as a grocery wholesaler for the Melbourne retail trade. As the company evolved, Mr Booth, whose family had operated a modest grocery store at Dandenong, began selling mainstream confectionery, including brands such as Cadbury, Mars and Nestlé, in addition to imported lines.

Current Managing Director Craig Bain joined the company in 1998. At this time, Accredited Distributors operated a small facility in Brooklyn Avenue, Dandenong.

Mr Bain expanded the business to operate strategically located branches collectively with Executive Director Stuart Hobbs – in Mildura, Albury, Bendigo, Geelong, Horsham and Dandenong – distributing confectionery, snack food, beverage and grocery lines.

The operating model is proving successful, with Accredited Distributors listed among BRW magazine’s Top 500 Private Companies for the past three years, most recently ranking 456th.

Accredited Distributors operates as part of The Distributors group, which claims to have around 35,000 customers.

“To have a reach like that, to get to that amount of route trade, naturally people want to bring their products to us,” Mr Hobbs said.

Accredited Distributors also operate a joint venture with Lismore business Beach & Bush Distributors and recently entered a joint venture in far north Queensland and Cairns, called the Distributors Queensland/Cairns.

Mr Bain said their biggest investment is their people.

“Just here in Victoria, (we have) 28 reps on the road,” he said. “Our strongest point is our people and our service and that is how we are going to win a lot of business. Price is one thing and we will continue to compete on price, but we can do it on service.”

Success aside, Mr Bain and Mr Hobbs agree that they are operating within a competitive market with fierce competition from the major retailers and Costco, and the likes of home delivery.

“Costco are entering the market, Metcash are still out there trying to do what they do and so we have to keep coming up with different ideas, and be proactive with promotional activity,” Mr Bain said. “We have to evolve with it. We have to come up with different offers.”

Mr Hobbs said despite the tough environment, someone will have to do the route trade.

“As long as we are on this earth, someone’s got to do the route trade and, as long as we can get through, we will be those people as far as I can see,” he said.

Trade show

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Accredited Distributors Trade Show, which was held recently at the company’s Dandenong warehouse with a cocktail party and awards presentation held afterwards in Melbourne’s inner city. Accredited Distributors is also set to celebrate 40 years in business next year.

Mr Bain says the show gets bigger every year, with the 2015 event attracting a record 1,112 retailers and 120 VIPs – an increase of 350 attendees on last year’s event.

Former AFL player John Barnes was the MC and the trade show hosted 56 exhibitors showcasing the latest in product innovation and trends.

Highlights of the show included Mondelēz revealing its range of Cadbury Dairy Milk & Crunchy Crackers and Sweet Biscuits that will launch towards the end of this month and have been developed in response to a gap in the market for chocolates to be consumed in the morning.

Alongside its hard-to-miss DJ truck and popular energy drink range, Red Bull showcased its latest line extension: the ‘Tropical’ flavoured Summer Edition.

SRS Queensland used the occasion to exhibit its Popcorn Sensations range, which offers Salted Caramel, Toffee Apple and Sweet Chilli. SRS Managing Director Nay Raniga says the products are gluten free and completely natural, with no artificial colours or flavours.

Taking the health trend one step further, Musashi exhibited flavour extensions of its Low Carb Protein bars (Dark Chocolate Tiramisu and Dark Chocolate Creamy Berry) and High Protein Low Carb bars (Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel and Milk Choc Brownie).

Candy Brokers showcased the latest in novelty confectionery with Vidal’s range of Blood Balls, Alien Eggs and Zombie Balls – well suited for Halloween. Also new, Glow Nails bubblegum offers a new take on the ‘gum with tattoo’ craze, with a set of nail stickers available in each pack.

Johnson & Johnson showcased its medicinals range, including Zyrtec Rapid Active, and the Purell Advanced Hand Sanitiser with Jelly Clip.

Mr Hobbs sees consumers steering away from big brands in favour of trying something different – an outlook supported by the diverse range of exhibitors.

“You only have to look at the alcohol market and how many beers there are now on tap, and it’s the same with the confectionery, snack and beverage market,” he said. “People aren’t just going to the fridge and buying a Coca-Cola every time – they’re looking for an alternative product.”

Alligned with the strong health trend, coconut water, in particular, is proving popular.

“We placed two fridges in roadhouses only a couple of weeks ago and everything in that fridge is coconut water,” Mr Hobbs said. “That is all they wanted.”

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Celebratory cocktail party

To celebrate the milestone trade show, Accredited Distributors concluded a successful day by hosting a cocktail party at Luminare in South Melbourne. Highlights of the event included entertainment from singer Kate Buckland, cocktail mixing and tricks by The Lab Bar – a flaming cocktail-juggling display, and fireworks to top it off.

While celebrating a milestone achievement, the party also provided Accredited Distributors with the opportunity to recognise suppliers and individuals for their contribution to the trade show.

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Award winners:

  • Best Stand Display, Gold Sponsor: Red Bull.
  • Best Stand Display, Silver Sponsor: Universal.
  • Outstanding Service to Accredited Distributors Trade Show: Montana.
  • 20 Years’ Service: Stuart Alexander, Universal, Fyna Foods, Confectionery Trading Company, Mondelēz.
  • 20 Years’ Service – Individual: Terry Smith, Chris Dunell, Grant Sauberg, Warren French.
  • Most Outstanding Influence and Support for Accredited Major Supplier 2015: Nestlé/Greg Hanson.
  • Most Outstanding Influence and Support for Accredited Silver Supplier 2015: Tixana/Darryl Nulliah.
  • Cocktail Sponsor Awards: Red Bull, Bundaberg, Funtastic, Universal, Robin Foods, Bickfords, FAL.

Looking to the future, Accredited Distributors will continue to expand its business and pursue opportunities for growth.

“As a business, we’re looking at foodservice,” Mr Bain said. “That’s an area, probably from Accredited’s point of view, that we have to get into, so there are certainly some plans on the table.”

“We appreciate the support that we get from the route trade and we have to make sure we give them everything they want in return – and have got to support each other, look after each other,” Mr Hobbs said.

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Leader’s Profile

Craig Bain
Managing Director

Accredited Distributors

Distributor of confectionery, snack foods, beverages and grocery products to the petrol and convenience, route-trade and independent grocery sectors.

What was your first job? 

My first job was a clerk role with a national insurance broker.

What is your proudest career achievement?

My proudest career achievement has definitely been the growth of Accredited Distributors’ business to be included in the past three years in BRWs Top 500 Private Companies list.

What is your biggest regret in business? 

I don’t have any regrets in business.

What rules do you live by? 

Be honest to whomever you speak with and treat everyone the way you expect to be treated.

Stuart Hobbs
Executive Director

Accredited Distributors

What was your first job? 

Wool classer/buyer.

What is your proudest career achievement? 

To start from scratch and to make it into the BRW Top 500 Private Companies list.

What is your biggest regret in business? 

There will always be some regrets along the journey, but I always try and turn them into a learning experience.

What rules do you live by?

Relate to your people and customers and give them the time, as you would expect.

What the guests had to say 

“First of all, congratulations on successful day and night. We all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

It’s rare to see a distributor go the extra length to bring their customers together.

I was amazed at the outstanding turnout and presence of the retail trade in Victoria. Spending time with them on quality conversation that matters – selling more product!

We enjoyed the cocktail party heck we even got to drink some of our own new product!

We are very appreciative of the awards you have given us, and certainly value the partnership we have forged together over the last six years, and look forward to many more.

A big thank you from the Red Bull team.”

Sam Mostapha
Sales Director, Off Premise
Red Bull Australia

“Outstanding sales results again from the annual Accredited Trade Show.

It’s always a good way to meet the retailers and further the relationships they have with our field team outside of a store environment. A great addition to this year’s trade show was undoubtedly the dinner & cocktail party held at South Melbourne. Cool venue, well organised and a night very well enjoyed. Fingers crossed this remains part of all future trade shows.”

Glen Rhodes
National Customer Business Manager – Wholesale & Impulse|Sales
Nestlé Australia

“On behalf of Snack Brands Australia I would like to thank you for organising and inviting us to your trade show and cocktail party.

“I can confidently say that your trade show remains the benchmark of excellence in the eyes of manufacturers and your retail customers. I have attended the Accredited Trade Show now for the past six years and, on your 20th anniversary, I believe this is the best one yet.

“To me the sign of a good trade show is manufacturer and retailer attendance and engagement. This is built on partnerships and strong customer service. It appears to me that on both counts Accredited Distributors understand and truly embrace the strength and value of these two fundamentals.

“To cap off a very successful trade show for Snack Brands, we wanted to thank you for you for your hospitality at Luminare. We were lucky enough to be part of a fantastic night of fun, entertainment, formality and, of all things, fireworks. Wow!

“Once again the high level of attendance and engagement from manufacturers and retail customers is a testament to you, Accredited Distributors, and all the people in your organisation.”

Ross McHugh
National Business Manager – Wholesale
Snack Brands Australia

“Thank you for what can best be described as the best trade show ever.

“Congratulations on the depth of planning and professionalism around all details.

As a supplier to Accredited, hence the impulse trade in Victoria, we derive enormous benefit from you attracting up to 1,400 retailers to visit the trade show.

“The PepsiCo team cannot remember a more frequented trade show in recent memory.

“Outside of the business generated on the day, we at PepsiCo appreciate the partnership with Accredited. This trade show is typical of the driven approach you have taken to building business. A fantastic way to mark your 20th anniversary.

“We look forward to partnering with you into the future.”

Drew Fairnham
Senior Sales Director – Traditional Trade
PepsiCo Australia & New Zealand

“I firstly would like thank you, Craig [Bain] and Stuart [Hobbs], for inviting us to your 20th anniversary trade show and cocktail party. What a well planned and executed show it was. It was more than we could have asked for and much more.

“The communication and the follow-up prior to the show were top class and this was reflected in the turnout with a record number of retailers attending. What a great team effort.

“Sales for our products on the previous year were over 25 per cent up, which is a huge result for our brand, with existing and new customers buying.

“Andrew [Johnson, Operations Manager], your flair for organising cocktail functions was first class. We definitely didn’t expect such a wonderful night – ie, fireworks, jugglers and magicians. You outdid yourself.

“Thanks to you and the team for a very memorable day and night.

“Looking forward to what you’re planning next year.”

Darryl Nulliah
National Business Manager

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