Wholesalers have begun to react to Tesco’s proposed acquisition of Booker.

Scottish wholesaler JW Filshill, owner of the KeyStore fascia, tweeted on the day of the announcement: “Any independent retailers out this morning looking for a new wholesaler that is committed to supporting independents? Give us a call!”

A spokesman for Today’s Wholesale said: “We will wait and see how this develops. Meanwhile our focus continues to be to support and service our independent retailers and foodservice operators through our broad network of passionate independent wholesalers.”

Independent sector veteran John Heagney predicted that wholesaler competitors would be ready to pounce on potential recruits to their symbol groups and customer networks.

“I don’t believe the deal is in the interest of the independent sector, whatever anybody else may say,” said Heagney, who worked at Nisa for 36 years, most recently as group symbol director.

Heagney, who now runs John Heagney Consulting, said he was “amazed” at how muted independent retailers’ response to the deal had been so far.

He said he thought that Londis, Budgens and Premier retailers would hang on and “wait to see what carrots” were dangled in front of them.

He added: “There’s a great opportunity for other symbols and buying groups.”