Bina Patel (Bentry General Stores, Bristol) was most distressed to get a letter from Imperial Tobacco Ltd (ITL) telling her that she was failing to display the requisite amount of stock as agreed last year when she signed up for doors to be fitted. The letter gave her 14 days to comply or she would be referred to ITL’s legal department.

The back story to this is that Bina has such an old gantry that the fitting couldn’t happen owing to its circular top. She says: “I’ve had the gantry for 15/16 years. We’ve been in business with the company for 23 years, following every planogram. I asked the rep several times to cancel the contract.”

Bina also took advice from the NFRN’s legal line, which confirmed that, because of the length of time that her business had had the gantry, the tobacco company no longer had any legal rights over it and furthermore, because of the small size of the gantry, she didn’t need doors. A curtain would suffice.

The NFRN advised her to put it in writing to ITL. There then followed a trail of emails while Bina tried to establish the cancellation of the contract. She wanted what the rep was telling her - that the legal proceedings would not take place - confirmed in writing. When she contacted me she was still waiting.

When I got in touch with ITL they said they couldn’t comment on individual cases. However, I am fairly sure that ITL will not be heavy handed on this matter.

Bina believes that the true back story to this is that it is all about the stock-keeping units. She says she will keep the same number of lines as she always has, but wants to keep some space for the likes of Philip Morris and BAT, which are both offering incentives.