Service levels to Costcutter members have improved in recent weeks, according to retailers contacted by Convenience Store.

Since the expiry of the previous supply deal with Nisa in July, retailers trading under the various Costcutter-owned and supplied fascias have been receiving deliveries from Palmer & Harvey, but the transition has been marked by missed deliveries and poor product availability. However, service levels have improved considerably since the opening weeks, according to Jas Bhattle, who runs a 2,500sq ft Simply Local store in Newton-le-Willows, Merseyside.

“At the beginning we had a few issues with availability, but the first two to three weeks were the worst, since then it’s got a lot better,” he told C-Store. “To start with the substitutions weren’t quite right as we were used to stocking pricemarked drinks and P&H didn’t have them, but it’s sorted now. This week delivery levels were above 90%, nearly up to 95%, and our turnover has grown as availability improved. We were doing £35-36k, now it’s up to £42-43k.”

Costcutter had promised members that the new buy and supply arrangement would lead to lower prices, and more frequent deliveries with no additional surcharges. Yet retailers leaving comments on the website were quoting availability levels of 75-80% as recently as last week, as well as a four-week delay for credits. However Mace retailer Colin White commented on the site that “we’re through the worst of it”.

Jas also maintained that the new arrangement would be better in the long run. “You have to look at it from the point of view of the entire week,” explained Jas. “We have gone from one Nisa delivery a week to three with P&H, so if anything’s missing from one delivery you can re-order it, and we have a choice as to whether we receive cages or pallets. All the issues were at the beginning, now it’s working well for us.”