Rural retailers affected by the collapse of the KerryFresh van delivery business are scrambling for alternative suppliers of chilled products.

Many former KerryFresh customers were caught off guard by yesterday’s announcement of the firm’s administration, despite recent delivery issues.

Gary Pilsworth, owner of Offley Stores and Post Office in Hertfordshire, discovered the news after speaking to C-Store this morning. “I don’t know what we’re going to do - they were our only supplier for chilled food.

“We might go back to Booker, although I’m not sure of the range, or I might contact Bestway. Otherwise I’ll have to go to the supermarkets,” he added.

Andrew Johnson, owner of Dafarn Newydd Stores in Wales, said: “It’s going to have a big impact, about half of our chiller was from KerryFresh. Now we need someone to supply fresh sandwiches, butter, creams, Rustler products and cooked meats.

“We have a small independent seller but he doesn’t carry fresh sandwiches. Twitter has been really useful to contact suppliers – Urban Eat and the Real Wrap Company have promised to get back to me. We asked Greencores but they wanted a minimum order of 130 sandwiches a week, and we only sell about 30. Lots of it is down to volume and distance – we’re right in the middle of nowhere here.”

Andrew did not anticipate yesterday’s news. “We were being supplied from the Birmingham depot, about two and a half hours away but the driver always delivered early in the morning, and had really built our business up,” he added.

Raju Patel, owner of Premier Eldred Drive Stores in Orpington, Kent, said he had sensed KerryFresh’s fate a couple of months ago so had increased his orders from Booker and started sourcing from a local supplier.

“We have most things covered, we’re ordering more bacon and sausages from Booker, but we miss the coleslaw which KerryFresh delivered which was very popular. And I don’t know who else does Richmond sausages.”

A spokeswoman for Booker said: ”We are happy to help and support any independent retailer with all aspects of their business.”