Somerfield has offloaded the Mace wholesale business in Scotland to Palmer & Harvey McLane (P&H) so it can concentrate on its retail business in the region.

The multiple retailer said that it needed to focus on its large number of recent acquisitions, such as 113 former Safeway stores. Somerfield took on the Mace business as part of the deal to buy 36 Aberness-owned c-stores in March 2004. The retailer plans to convert more of these to the Somerfield Essentials format from July.

P&H already has depots in Dunfermline and Glasgow, which means the Aberness service centre and depot in Aberdeen will close. However, Somerfield has promised to help Aberness workers find new jobs when P&H takes over responsibility for deliveries in July. Somerfield has doubled its presence in Scotland in the last 12 months, where it operates 180 stores. Somerfield’s head of convenience business, Steve Henshaw, said P&H was best placed to secure the future success of the Mace brand in Scotland. He added: “Somerfield is committed to its Scottish customers and plans a major investment programme.”

However, the continuing uncertainty surrounding the changes has led another two independent Scottish Mace retailers to defect to Spar wholesaler CJ Lang, bringing the total to four, and the number of stores recruited by the symbol group to 10.

The remaining Scottish Mace retailers will get the chance to quiz P&H bosses at a presentation in Aberdeen on June 3, when they will discuss the future of the Mace brand in Scotland.

P&H has been working with Scottish retailers for 80 years and has 60 stores under the Your Store and Supershop fascias north of the border. It has the rights to the Mace brand in England and Wales. Meanwhile, United Co-op members have voted to increase the borrowing power of the company after it approached Somerfield’s board of directors with an offer for the group.