Supplier Zone Banner

Meet the Trading Team

Meet A.F. Blakemore's senior trading team: 

Rupert Morris

Group Trading Director

RupertDepartment responsibilities:

SPAR (Blakemore Trade Partners and Blakemore Retail), delivered wholesale and foodservice

Tell us a little bit about your background:

I had not intended to join Blakemore’s at all. Five years ago, having returned from working in the Middle East as part of a management team running 90 UK and US high-street brands through over 2,500 outlets, I was looking for a new challenge. A short-term opportunity arose on an interim basis within the Trading team at Blakemore’s, which suited me whilst I investigated a few business opportunities…the rest as they say is history.

I was a reasonably late starter in retail. I studied Agriculture at Aberystwyth and then over several years farmed in Australia, qualifying as an agricultural mechanic before taking up a postgraduate course in the marketing of agricultural products. My interest in agricultural consumer products led me to Gateway (Somerfield) as a Graduate Trainee Buyer. From there I progressed to Frozen Food Controller before joining SRAR Central Office in Harrow, my first introduction to SPAR.

Following a five-year stint at Harrow I decided I wanted to get more hands on, and over the following few years became a retailer in the Appleby Westwood region with two SPAR stores.

After having a knife pulled out on me by a shoplifter in one of my stores, I decided it was safer in a buying office. I sold my stores and joined the Irish wholesaler BWG in their UK operation before becoming Trading Director at Roadchef and then Buying and Development Director at Delice and Cuisine de France. The Middle East then came calling, and here I am now at Blakemore’s.

I’ve worked in SPAR Central Office, been a SPAR retailer and am now Group Trading Director of SPAR’s largest wholesaler. 

What do you find most interesting about your job at AFB?

There is no doubt that the convenience, wholesale, and foodservice sectors are some of the most demanding out there now, each with their own dynamics, each with their own challenges and each with their own opportunities. Working with the great senior team at Blakemore’s, with my Trading and Replenishment team and with our suppliers to help unlock those opportunities and strive to grow the Blakemore business is what stops me from getting bored and keeps me motivated.

What is one thing that most people don’t know about you?

I have driven pretty much round the circumference of Australia. After working on various farms and in oil exploration in Australia, I was asked by a geologist, who was looking for a source of diamonds, whether I would drive his equipment from Perth in Western Australia across the Nullarbor desert to Adelaide and then up to Queensland and back. With the proceeds of that job I bought a car and drove from Perth all the way over the top of Australia through Darwin, Brisbane and then to Sydney, from where I flew on to New Zealand to carry on my travels.


Jo Wrate

Head of Trading for Impulse and Chilled Food

JoTell us a little bit about your background:

I joined Blakemore’s in 2017, initially as a consultant to help AFB decouple from its cash & carry division. After the work with the cash & carry teams was complete I was asked to stay on to help build on some great work that was already happening with AFB’s delivered wholesale division, which had the purpose of delivering food and drink in to non-SPAR customers. I eventually joined the SPAR Trading team as Head of Impulse and Chilled Food in August 2019.

Prior to working at Blakemore’s, I worked in Trading for ten years at Poundland. I was responsible for the food and drink category, and although it was very challenging trying to buy product and sell it for a £1 for over a decade I really enjoyed my time working there.

Before Poundland I worked on the supplier side and started my career with Muller Dairy selling yoghurts and desserts into convenience stores and wholesalers. I spent five years at Kerry Foods PLC selling sliced meat and sausages to supermarkets and then latterly went to work on their chilled food wholesale division.

I am really lucky that I have enjoyed all of my jobs to date and I have got to work with some talented and inspirational characters along the way.

What do you find most interesting about your job at AFB?

Working in retail and wholesale across three different sales divisions and managing large teams of people across lots of different product categories means that no two days are ever the same. I really enjoy the variety that this role gives me.

The thing I enjoy the most and find the most interesting is the time I spend with people, both internally and externally. I try to spend a large proportion of my week with key suppliers developing plans that will drive growth in important categories. I also enjoy spending time with my team.

What is one thing that most people don’t know about you?

I am a keen horse owner and horse rider, but not a very good one! I have spent all my life (and all my money!) trying to be a great equestrian but over the years I have had more scrapes, bangs and knocks than anyone I know. As a child I attended Pony Club camp religiously every year, and for three consecutive years I was awarded a concessionary prize for being “the rider that fell off the most”. The Pony Club changed the title of the award in the final to year to be “the rider with the most determination”, but I know what they really meant, and nothing has really changed in my adult life, but I keep on trying!


Simon Scammell

Head of Trading

SimonDepartment responsibilities:

Beers, wines & spirits, tobacco, grocery, grocery non-food, bread & cakes and frozen

Tell us a little bit about your background:

Based in Talbot Green I joined the Trading team at Blakemore’s just over four years ago as Head of Ambient Trading. Whilst my responsibility covers most of the ambient categories, my remit also extends to fresh bread & cake and frozen. Prior to joining Blakemore’s, a large proportion of my retail experience (12 years) was gained within the chilled and impulse areas as a Category Buyer at Somerfield, which I joined not long after leaving university. Outside of retail buying, I spent five years in a procurement role within the waste, sustainability & environmental sector and also spent time in the supply base as a Commercial Manager within health & beauty.

What do you find most interesting about your job at AFB?

It’s being at the heart of the convenience retail and wholesale markets with the associated limited space and operating within highly competitive markets. It requires continual improvement of absolutely everything that you do, it demands new thinking and new ways of working, and there is simply no end to the learning process. However, the aspect I most look forward to is being part of and contributing to Brand days, understanding the strategic direction of how our key partners want to drive their brands and our business forward, and of course sampling new product development. After all, product is at the core of everything we do!

What is one thing that most people don’t know about you?

There are genuinely a very limited number of people that know, I was once, for a brief spell, a museum exhibit.  It was only for a day and I was 11, having recently joined a new school in Bristol.  Wearing yellow stockings, a girdle, moleskin breeches and what could in modern terms be described as a dress (the school uniform) it was something that not everyone gets to experience and it’s probably the closest I’ve ever come to being a model.

The Blakemore Way

Blakemore Way

Blakemore Heritage

Blakemore Heritage