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New Platform to Offer ‘Shop Local’ Perks as Employee Benefit

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A start-up offering a digital wholesale service to hospitality and other businesses is launching a new employee benefits product.

Suppliety, which provides an ‘intelligent marketplace’ for restaurants, bars and other businesses to check prices from a range of local food and drink suppliers, launched shortly before lockdown.

With their main customer base forced to shut up shop, the founders turned to ways to make their innovative product meet a new set of demands – and came up with a sister product in the meantime.

Co-founder James Graham said:

“We had 30 restaurants lined up at launch, and then everything closed. That was a pretty dark point. But it proved to be a bit of a blessing in disguise, although it didn’t feel like it at that point. It forced us to look at what people really wanted. There was panic at first, and it has been a terrible time for so many. Now people have adjusted to a different way of doing things, but at that time the challenge was trying to call that adjustment.”

The result is Communiti, which is due to launch in October and will sit alongside Suppliety.

Communiti is free for employers to sign up to and gives their staff the chance to buy from a wide range of local food and drink suppliers at wholesale prices.

The site already has around 60 suppliers on board from across South Wales, with a handful from Herefordshire, providing more than 800 products including meat, fish, dairy, bakery goods, wine, beer, cider, mead and spirits, coffee and dairy alternatives.

“Our model is about localisation – it allows you to cut down on food miles whilst also saving time and money. The savings can be anywhere between 5% and 40%. And if you shop with local suppliers 68% of the money you spend stays in the local economy.”

He sees Communiti as stepping into a gap for employers who may be struggling to offer relevant employee incentive schemes as working lives have changed.

The site will initially be aimed at employees living in South-East Wales, with plans to scale at a later date.

Suppliety has also evolved in line with feedback from initial users. The platform now enables hospitality businesses such as bars, restaurants and delis, as well as offices and other workplaces, to enter details of products and quantities they wish to purchase. They can then work with different local suppliers to negotiate on price and arrange delivery.