Geographically-isolated retailers are being urged to club together to incentivise chilled delivery services to fill the gap left by KerryFresh, which went into administration at the end of March.

KerryFresh’s collapse into administration has left retailers across the country without a regular chilled delivery service.

Peter’s Food Services offers a chilled van delivery service out of 10 depots to retailers across most of the country, except mid Wales, East Anglia and north of Glasgow.

“But if retailers in those areas get together with other retailers and make it economical for us, we’d love to service them. We’d need about 15-20 retailers to make it work,” said managing director Chris Doyle.

Peter’s Food has picked up about 100 new customers since KerryFresh’s collapse. Retailers located in the areas the firm services are required to order a minimum £30 drop.

Andrew Johnson, owner of Dafarn Newydd Stores in Powys, has been in touch with a number of suppliers.

“We’d be keen to work with them [Peter’s], but it should be up to them to find the retailers, I don’t have the time to take out of my business,” he told C-Store. “I’m hoping I can come to an arrangement with Booker. Until two years ago I got fresh deliveries from Booker, but then they upped the minimum order to £1,000 - and I was ordering £600 a drop. But at our nearest depot in Wrexham, more than 25 miles away, they said ‘there’s ways round it’.

“We’ve had some really good conversations with Urban Eat about sandwiches and that looks promising, although it means upping the quantities we stock which could lead to problems – but nothing on all the other items,” he added.

Mike Dorey, owner of Eastcombe Village Stores in Gloucestershire, added: “We used to have two small deliveries from KerryFresh a week, but that was stopped a few months ago as we couldn’t meet new demands for larger case sizes. Small rural stores like us can’t take the risk of ordering large cases of low-margin, short-dated products, so the ability to single-pick products was a huge benefit and a reliable, low-risk option for us.

“Clearly it wasn’t a successful business model for Kerry, though. It’s a huge loss to the small rural stores industry.”