Nurdin cries foul on Japanese suppliers: Cash-and-carry group complains to OFT

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The Independent Online
NURDIN & Peacock, the cash-and- carry group, has complained to the Office of Fair Trading about Sony and other Japanese electrical goods makers refusing to supply its new US-style discount warehouse.

The company, which yesterday announced a pounds 22m acquisition from Fitzwilton and profits up 6.5 per cent to pounds 32.1m, said it was given no reasonable explanation for the refusal. But David Poole, Nurdin & Peacock's chief executive, detected the influence of the more established high street retailers, worried by the introduction of warehouse shopping into the UK.

The company has also complained to Brussels, where Sony is currently lobbying the European Commission for greater access to European markets. 'It is somewhat odd that Sony want more open access, but refuse to supply us,' Mr Poole said.

He said Panasonic, JVC and Toshiba also refused to supply Nurdin & Peacock, which now purchases goods made by these companies on the 'grey' market.

Britain's first warehouse club was opened last year by Costco, offering a no-frills service with prices cut to the bone and goods sold in bulk. Tesco, Safeway and Sainsbury lost a High Court action to block planning permission for the store.

Nurdin & Peacock opened its own warehouse near Croydon last month, claiming to offer 15-20 per cent savings on audio-visual goods. Mr Poole said: 'Sony has given transparently thin reasons for not supplying us. We think there must be some pressure being applied from established retailers.' Sony said it was surprised by the comments as it was still in talks about supplying the company.

Nurdin & Peacock also said yesterday it was paying pounds 21.9m cash for Fitzwilton's M6 division of 10 cash- and-carry branches, whose profits last year fell to pounds 412,000 on turnover of pounds 207m. Nurdin & Peacock's profits for the year to 31 December were struck on turnover down 3 per cent to pounds 1.4bn. However, margins edged ahead from 8 per cent to 8.5 per cent thanks to improved central controls and cost reductions, including a pounds 1m reduction in shrinkage.

The pilot trade and business centre in Glasgow achieved sales 30 per cent higher than those from an equivalent cash-and-carry. Nurdin & Peacock is spending pounds 10m converting 44 cash-and-carrys to business centres.

A final dividend of 4.4p makes a 6.5p total. Earnings rose 3.5 per cent to 17.6p. The shares rose 1p to 210p. Fitzwilton shares gained 2p to 48p.