I have had a call from Paul Bhatt, who runs Duncan Stores in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire. Last October he switched to London-based Freshways for milk supplies. The prices were very good (55p for two-litres; 45p for one-litre and 28p a pint) and would be held for one year. The rep gave him a contract. Then it got a bit strange, with the rep asking him for proof that he had 'not been poached' from a different supplier. He provided this proof. But now supplies have dried up and he says no one from Freshways will answer his calls.

I got in touch with Freshways and director Bali Nijjar replied: "We supply in excess of 6,000 independents and hence I am not aware of this store (especially being in the North). More surprising is that he says we have a contract. I have never come across giving contracts to any of our stores. Send me a copy and I will investigate."

I forwarded the contract but communication has dried up. As for Paul he has withheld the last payment to the company although he can readily pay it. It did get their attention as he has now received a letter from the debt collector. Paul has written back to them to say that he is commencing proceedings because their client is in breach of contract.

A few years back I reported on what seemed to be similar turf wars with companies offering cut-price milk with the prices held for a year I had calls from retailers in London, Bristol, Manchester and the North-west. Is it all starting up again, or has it never gone away?

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