Booker

A retailer in the West Country who wishes to remain anonymous (in case Booker cuts him off completely) has a grievance about the minimum order for deliveries being £1,000. His is the only store in the village which also houses two pubs, one tea room and an outreach post office. It is an extremely seasonal village.

He has 14 suppliers (for local produce), none of which imposes minimums. He told me that the previous week he got a call from Booker’s saying that the minimum order would now be £1K exclusive of tobacco and alcohol. They said it had always been the policy…just not previously enforced in the South-west.

But for the tea room, around 30 yards away, the minimum order is just £100. Booker’s delivery van has to pass his shop to get to the tea room. Minimum to the pubs is £200. He asked head office ‘Where is the logic?’ and says the response was, more or less, ‘We’re just following orders’.

And the head office bod added: “See you in the spring.” The retailer says that his two off season deliveries a week could sometimes add up to the minimum. He is getting on so he doesn’t drive, and, in any case, a trip to the closest branch would involve a ferry and half an hour on the road.

I asked whether Booker would deliver for less than its minimum drop and then charge for the delivery. And whether it would be feasible to get just one delivery a week, therefore meeting their criteria or was it a question of storage space?

His wife replied: “They have not offered to deliver for a charge which would be acceptable for emergency top-ups once in a while. One weekly delivery is very difficult to manage as short life products need to be delivered twice a week as we only dare to order a few at a time and it would leave us with out-of-stocks for part of the week.

“Their use by dates can be very short as they do not seem to rotate their stock very well. From November to April we will struggle to order £1,000 a week as we only get local residents and no visitors.

“From May/June to September/October we easily order £1,500/£2,000 twice a week.” I asked Booker if there might be exceptions to the rule as there once had been. Or was it that its owner Tesco was just trying to keep catering customers on side and not bothered about retailers?

A spokesperson replied: “Although we do not discuss individual customers, this remains a very challenging time for our teams and our branches. The minimum order level of £1,000 for regular retail deliveries has been place for a number of years and is not something new. We will pick up with these customers directly and see if there is anything further we can help with.”

Given that I kept them anonymous I puzzle over just how they are going to pick up with them directly. And they cannot be the only West Country retailers struggling with minimum drop