Retailers are considering moving to other wholesalers following frustrations over a lack of investment and continuing availability problems through wholesaler A.F. Blakemore & Son. 

Bay Bashir, of Lifestyle Express in Middlesbrough, told RN he is considering Booker as an alternative supplier for his three stores after Blakemore failed to fulfil promises to develop his business. 

“My plans are on hold, which is frustrating. One shop was going to change to Blakemore’s BMore Local fascia in January and they also promised to invest in my Lifestyle Express store, but they’ve pulled the plug,” said Mr Bashir. 

“I’ve had no answers or visits from my business development manager in two months.” 

Kath Hitchin, of Kath’s Convenience Lifestyle Express in Caernarfon, is also considering switching wholesalers after seeing availability drop to 70%. She said: “I’ve had issues over the past six months and I’ve been unable to get products such as Lucozade over the past three months. 

“Blakemore promised to help renovate my store, but it’s gone quiet. I’ve received no answers.”

According to Mr Bashir, Blakemore’s Middlesbrough depot was discounting alcohol by more than 50% in December. Mrs Hitchin added the Bangor warehouse had been running extended Black Friday promotions.  

Wholesale expert David Gilroy said the discounts are a sign Blakemore is in need of cash. “Discounts like these are a sign of a business trying to get money quickly,” he said.

He warned Blakemore could not afford to have poor availability. “Customers will lose confidence and go elsewhere. Suppliers are nervous because of Palmer & Harvey’s collapse and they may restrict credit to avoid further losses. Blakemore risks losing business if this isn’t sorted.” 

In a statement to RN, Blakemore Wholesale managing director James Russell denied availability issues. “I have visited retailers who have praised increased availability and ease of shop over the past few months,” he said.