Palmer & Harvey is looking to expand its business in Northern Ireland following the migration of Costcutter retailers into the network.

The company’s twin depots in Belfast, which comprise 160,000sq ft of warehouse space, deliver an average of 14,500 cases per day on tri-temperature vehicles, with the capacity to increase this five or six times over.

Independent retailers have a 38% share of the grocery market in Northern Ireland, and P&H has more than 250 independent accounts there, including 125 under the Costcutter brand.

The province was the first region to migrate Costcutter retailers to receiving deliveries from P&H instead of Nisa, and P&H managing director of operations Julian Streeter said that the Belfast depot played a pivotal role in implementing learnings throughout the network.

“We weren’t given a dossier to follow, it’s only when we brought stores on board that we could really get on top of things,” he explained.

“The important thing is to learn lessons quickly. We need to get through Christmas, then our first year and once we’ve done that we’ll have strong data, and a base to learn from. It’s all about quality information.”

Retailer Phillip O’Neill, whose Costcutter store in Portglenone, County Antrim, stocks up to 10,000 product lines, told C-Store that the P&H regime of smaller drops and more frequent delivery was working well for him.

“The P&H deliveries are good. We’re finding that in recent months we have been much busier in the evenings, with customers shopping more often with smaller baskets, so it’s more of a convenience service that is needed.”