P&H is confident that Costcutter and Mace retailers will see “immediate and sustained improvements” in service as a result of two new facilities which opened last week to cater for the new supply deal.

The wholesaler opened a 30,000sq ft chilled facility at Bristol targeting the South West, and an 80,000sq ft facility at Leeds for slow-moving stock nationally.

Said Palmer & Harvey managing director Martyn Ward: “They will enable us to create a better balance of activity throughout the network and reduce the inter-branching of goods nationwide, providing considerable additional capacity at the regional depots.”

He apologised to retailers for inconvenience caused by “unprecedented demand and volume of orders due to a combination of the warm weather, World Cup, Wimbledon and Tour de France all happening over the same period as the start of the Costcutter migration”.

“We will continue to work closely with Costcutter to identify and remedy any other problems,” he added.

Costcutter chief executive Darcy Willson-Rymer said there had been “immediate improvements in many parts of the country over the past week in pick rates and hitting delivery slots, which gives us the confidence that the situation will be normalised in the four-week timeframe we first indicated”.

A number of Costcutter and Mace retailers have continued to report delivery and availability issues, but others have reported an improvement in service and called for patience.

Sat Deo, who owns two Costcutter stores in South Yorkshire, last week received his first punctual delivery three weeks after migrating. But he said fruit & veg and bread were often short-dated, while some categories were being hit by a shortage of Independent products. “There’s no pet food so we’re having to go to the cash and carry,” he said.

“Once deliveries are punctual, service and own label is sorted and the dates are right, we’ll be okay. The three mixed deliveries a week are better than Nisa deliveries, too.”

Derbyshire retailer Paul Sohal and several members of his family have quit Costcutter for Nisa, despite “never wanting to leave the group”. Nisa has launched a dedicated helpline and fast-track support service to help Costcutter retailers re-join the business.

But Vip Panchmatia, of Hexagon Stores (Mace), Andover, Hampshire, said retailers would benefit from the merger “once issues are ironed out”.

“There is no magic wand with this type of transition and as long as they (Costcutter and P&H) work to resolve these issues, I think we should give them a chance.”