Somerfield is facing a mass defection by Mace retailers in Scotland frustrated at what they see as a lack of communication from the multiple and the continuing uncertainty over its future.

In the past fortnight, John Murray, who runs six Mace stores in the Scottish Highlands, and Innes MacDonald, who runs one in Ross-shire and one in Inverness, have announced they are quitting Somerfield at Mace to join Spar.

Both retailers were members of the Somerfield at Mace steering group, which was formed last year after the multiple bought Scottish Mace wholesaler Aberness. They have expressed their disappointment at the delay in converting their stores to the Somerfield at Mace fascia. It is understood a number of other Scottish Mace retailers are reviewing their position.

Innes MacDonald said: “Uncertainty is bad for business, especially when we are operating in such a highly competitive and fast-moving market. We need complete and immediate support.”

John Murray, who has two stores under evaluation and a further three sites earmarked for acquisition, said he was moving to an organisation “which has an in-depth knowledge of our marketplace on the ground”.

Archie Gilchrist, corporate affairs director at Spar wholesaler in Scotland CJ Lang, said the uncertainty over the future of Somerfield was a concern for independent Mace retailers. He welcomed the new Spar members and said he was “encouraged and excited” by what was happening.

Somerfield spokesman Pete Williams said: “The loss and acquisition of retailers is normal in symbol group activity and we remain committed to supporting the retailers within the Mace independent retail business.” He said the multiple had signed up two new Mace members and had so far converted two stores to the Somerfield at Mace fascia and eight to the Somerfield Essentials fascia.

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