Cash and Carry Strategy for Restaurant Chains

Optimizing restaurant supply with cash & carry: insights on restaurant depot, volume purchasing and bulk discounts in 2023

Optimizing restaurant supply with cash & carry: insights on restaurant depot, volume purchasing and bulk discounts in 2023
Article by
Bram Haenraets
Article update
November 8, 2023
Table of Contents

Navigating the world of cash and carry can be complex, particularly for restaurant chains and franchises aiming for consistency and cost-efficiency. Our comprehensive guide dives deep into strategic approaches to cash and carry purchasing, ensuring you get the best deals while maintaining the quality your customers expect. Whether you're an established chain or a new entry to the food industry, understanding the role of global and local wholesale giants can significantly impact your bottom line and operational success. From inventory management to choosing the right suppliers, this guide covers it all. We also take a global tour of the biggest cash and carry organizations, revealing how they can serve your specific needs, regardless of where you operate. Read on for insights and strategies that will empower your restaurant business to thrive.

Cash and carry strategies for restaurant chains and franchises

Crafting an effective cash and carry strategy for a budding restaurant chain involves optimizing costs, ensuring consistent product quality, and establishing efficient logistics. Here's a recommended approach:

Understand Your Needs:

  • Inventory Analysis: Regularly audit and update your inventory needs. Overbuying can lead to waste, while under-purchasing might result in missed sales opportunities.
  • Menu Consistency: If you're planning multiple locations, ensure that product specifications remain uniform for brand consistency.

Build Relationships:

  • Regular Suppliers: Establish relationships with mainstay cash and carry stores in your area. This could lead to volume discounts and early information on deals or stock changes.
  • Local Alternatives: Identify local producers or markets for specialized items that might offer fresher products or niche ingredients not available in bigger chains.

Volume Purchasing:

  • Bulk Discounts: Larger purchases typically come with discounts. However, balance this with storage constraints and product shelf life.
  • Centralized Purchasing for Multiple Locations: If you're starting multiple outlets, consider centralized purchasing to take advantage of volume discounts and then distribute to individual locations.

Optimize Logistics:

  • Scheduled Runs: Instead of ad-hoc visits, plan regular trips to your cash and carry outlets. This aids in better inventory management and reduces transportation costs.
  • Efficient Transportation: Use vehicles with good fuel efficiency or consider rental arrangements if you don't need daily pickups.

Leverage Technology:

  • Inventory Management Systems: Use software to track inventory levels, forecast demand, and set reorder points.
  • Mobile Apps: Many cash and carry stores have apps that list current promotions or allow for online reservations of bulk items.

Stay Updated:

  • Promotions and Deals: Regularly check for promotions or seasonal deals. These can offer substantial savings, especially when buying in bulk.
  • Product Trends: New products or culinary trends might become available. Being one of the first to introduce these in your menu can be a unique selling point.

Quality Control:

  • Regularly Review Product Quality: Ensure that the quality of products you purchase remains consistent. This is especially vital for perishables.
  • Feedback Loop: Create a system where your chefs or kitchen staff can provide feedback about product quality or suggest alternatives.

Financial Management:

  • Budgeting: Set a clear budget for your purchases and stick to it. Monitor expenses regularly.
  • Negotiate Payment Terms: If you're a regular and significant client, there might be room to negotiate better payment terms or discounts.

Expand Strategically:

  • Proximity to Suppliers: When considering opening a new location, the proximity to trusted cash and carry outlets or suppliers should be a factor. This can significantly impact logistics and costs.

Employee Training:

  • Product Knowledge: Train your team to recognize quality products and understand the importance of consistent ingredients for brand integrity.
  • Purchasing Workshops: Periodic workshops on effective purchasing strategies can help your team make better on-the-spot decisions.

Implementing a strategic approach to your cash and carry purchases will not only result in cost savings but also ensure that your restaurant chain maintains a consistent quality standard, aiding in brand building and customer retention.

The biggest cash and carry organizations worldwide

In the competitive landscape of global wholesale trade, the prominence of cash and carry organizations stands out. These entities have carved a niche for themselves by offering bulk products at competitive prices, primarily serving businesses. Here, we delve into the most significant players in this arena, presenting the biggest cash and carry organizations worldwide.

Cash and carry wholesalers operate globally under various names and formats, but the core business model remains the same: selling goods in bulk quantities primarily to retailers and businesses. In the United States, they are often referred to simply as "cash and carry" or "wholesale clubs," with prominent examples being Costco and Sam's Club. In the United Kingdom, they may go by "trade wholesalers" or "trade cash and carry," and in Germany, the term "Großmarkt" is commonly used. In some countries like India, they may be called "wholesale marts." When these wholesalers specifically focus on food or restaurants, they are sometimes referred to as "foodservice distributors" in the United States or "HoReCa suppliers" (Hotel, Restaurant, Café) in European markets (or "horeca groothandel" in The Netherlands). Overall, the terminology may differ, but the underlying concept remains largely consistent across regions.


Headquartered in Germany, Metro AG is a leading international wholesale company. Its core customers include hotels, restaurants, and catering firms. With a vast assortment of food and non-food items, Metro AG has been a go-to source for restaurant businesses looking to purchase quality ingredients in bulk.

  • Presence: Active in 25 countries.
  • Stores: Over 750 wholesale stores.

Restaurant Depot

An American foodservice distributor, Restaurant Depot is dedicated to supplying restaurants. They offer everything from fresh produce and meats to equipment and supplies.

  • Presence: Primarily in the U.S.
  • Stores: Over 130 locations across the U.S.

Costco Wholesale Corporation

A membership-only warehouse club, Costco is frequented by restaurants for its wide variety of bulk food offerings, including gourmet ingredients.

  • Presence: 12 countries.
  • Stores: Over 800 warehouses.

Booker Group

A UK-based wholesale giant, Booker specializes in serving independent retailers and caterers. Their range of products, especially fresh produce, meats, and dairy, make them a preferred choice for many restaurants in the UK.

  • Presence: Mainly in the UK.
  • Stores: Over 170 branches.


Originating from the Netherlands but now with a wider footprint in South America and Asia, Makro serves numerous restaurants and businesses with their assortment of fresh produce, meats, and other essential food items.

  • Presence: Countries in South America and Asia, including Thailand and Brazil.
  • Stores: Over 150.


Predominantly present in Europe, Selgros is known for its comprehensive food offerings tailored to meet the needs of restaurants and catering services. Their selection of fresh produce, meats, and seafood is particularly popular.

  • Presence: Mainly in Germany, Romania, Russia, and Poland.
  • Stores: Over 40 locations.


As one of the largest independent food wholesalers in the UK, Bestway offers an array of products suited for restaurants, from fresh ingredients to beverages.

  • Presence: Mainly in the UK.
  • Stores: Over 60 warehouses.


An American multinational, Sysco is one of the leading food distributors worldwide, offering a broad range of products specifically for the food service industry, including restaurants.

  • Presence: Primarily in the US, with international operations.
  • Stores: Multiple distribution centers across the globe.

US Foods

Another major player from the US, US Foods supplies a vast array of food products to restaurants, healthcare facilities, and educational institutions.

  • Presence: Primarily in the US.
  • Stores: Numerous distribution centers across the country.

Brakes Group

With operations in the UK, Ireland, and France, Brakes Group offers a diverse range of food and non-food products to restaurants, pubs, and hotels.

  • Presence: UK, Ireland, France.
  • Stores: Several distribution centers in these regions.

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Restaurant cash and carry organizations by continent

North America

In North America, especially the US, Restaurant Depot stands out as a dedicated wholesaler for restaurants, offering a plethora of goods ranging from fresh produce to kitchen equipment. Sam’s Club and Costco Wholesale, both with expansive networks across the US and Canada, are also major players, catering to businesses with a vast selection of products in bulk, making them essential stops for many restaurateurs.

South America

Dominating the cash and carry landscape in South America, especially in Brazil and Argentina, is Makro. This retailer provides a comprehensive array of items for the hospitality sector. Atacadão in Brazil and City Club in Mexico also deserve mention, serving a significant number of businesses with their extensive product ranges.


In Asia, Makro again emerges as a major entity, especially in countries like Thailand. Lottemart Wholesale in Indonesia and Warehouse Club in Singapore are also noteworthy, offering an extensive array of products tailored to the needs of the bustling Asian restaurant industry.


Europe's cash and carry scenario is largely dominated by Metro Cash & Carry, which has a pervasive presence across multiple countries, from Germany and France to Eastern Europe's Bulgaria. Makro, though originating in South America, has also established a stronghold in European countries such as Spain, the Netherlands, and the UK. Another significant player is Selgros, especially present in countries like Germany.


While the African continent has a different retail structure, Game Stores, a subsidiary of the Massmart Holdings group in South Africa, stands out as a leading wholesale option. Makro, with its South African branches, and Uchumi Supermarkets in East Africa, also cater widely to businesses.


In the Oceania region, especially Australia, Campbell's Cash & Carry is a prominent name. They're complemented by chains like Bidfood and Metcash, both of which supply a wide variety of products catering to the diverse needs of the restaurant industry in this continent.

Restaurant cash and carry organizations by country

The concept of 'cash and carry' – buying goods from a wholesale store and carrying them away yourself – has found favor across the globe. As restaurants look for efficient ways to stock up, understanding the primary cash and carry options in different countries becomes invaluable. Here's a guide for restaurateurs spanning North and South America, Asia, the Middle East, and Europe.

  1. US: Restaurant Depot and Sam’s Club are among the top choices.
  2. Canada: Real Canadian Wholesale Club offers a vast range of products for restaurateurs.
  3. Mexico: City Club and Costco Wholesale are common stops.
  4. Brasil: Makro and Atacadão dominate the market.
  5. Argentina: Makro has a significant presence.
  6. Singapore: Warehouse Club is a popular destination.
  7. Malaysia: Mydin Wholesale Hypermarket is well-regarded.
  8. Thailand: Makro is a leading wholesale center.
  9. South Korea: Costco Wholesale is among the preferred choices.
  10. Japan: Stores like Costco and Gyomu Super are frequented.
  11. China: Metro Cash & Carry is a prominent option.
  12. Indonesia: Lottemart Wholesale is a go-to for many.
  13. United Arab Emirates: Jetro and Metro Cash & Carry have a presence.
  14. Saudi Arabia: BinDawood and Danube are top choices.
  15. Germany: Metro Cash & Carry and Selgros are leading names.
  16. United Kingdom: Booker Wholesale and Makro are staples.
  17. France: Metro Cash & Carry is widely used.
  18. Italy: Metro Cash & Carry and Cash & Carry Italia are favored.
  19. Spain: Makro is a significant player.
  20. Netherlands: Sligro and Makro are the leading wholesalers.
  21. Belgium: Metro Cash & Carry and Makro dominate.
  22. Sweden: Martin Olsson Cashar is a popular destination.
  23. Greece: Metro Cash & Carry has a strong presence.
  24. Portugal: Recheio Cash & Carry is preferred by many.
  25. Hungary: Metro Cash & Carry remains a top choice.
  26. Austria: Metro Cash & Carry and AGM are frequented.
  27. Switzerland: Prodega/Growa/Howeg is a primary wholesaler.
  28. Bulgaria: Metro Cash & Carry is dominant.
  29. Denmark: EuroCash and Dagrofa S-Engros are popular.
  30. Finland: Metro Cash & Carry is a prominent option.
  31. Norway: Europris and Engros AS are leading names.
  32. Ireland: Makro and Musgrave MarketPlace are top picks.
  33. Croatia: Metro Cash & Carry is a major choice.

This list provides a brief overview. It's always a good idea for restaurateurs to research specific local options and review the products and services they offer. The aim is to find the perfect wholesale partner to support your restaurant's unique needs and ensure smooth operations.


In conclusion, adopting a thoughtful and well-strategized approach to cash and carry purchasing is crucial for the long-term success of any restaurant chain or franchise. Not only does it offer immediate cost-saving benefits, but it also aids in establishing a strong brand identity through product consistency. With the right suppliers, whether global giants or local markets, restaurants can assure quality while optimizing logistics and inventory. Technology can further streamline this process, making it easier to manage and adapt your purchasing strategy as your business grows and evolves. Our guide has aimed to provide you with the comprehensive insights needed to make informed decisions in this vital aspect of your restaurant's operations. As the culinary landscape continues to change, staying updated on global and local cash and carry options can give you the competitive edge you need to succeed.

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