Booker customers have expressed anger at the wholesaler’s support during the coronavirus pandemic.

Retailers told betterRetailing the wholesaler had prioritised stock for Premier shops, removed recycling facilities with no notice and refused credit limit increases.

Adarsh Chauhan, of Westleigh Post Office & Convenience Store in Wigan, said: “Having been a regular customer of Booker for more than 30 years, this has made me open my eyes to the more competent wholesalers that know how to look after their customers.”

Retailers demand equal treatment from Booker

A Booker spokesperson said: “Although we do not discuss individual customers, it is important to understand that Tesco and Booker supply chains are operated separately of one another, and in no instance is stock that would usually be provided to Booker retail customers being redirected to Tesco stores. Operationally for many years, we have had Premier pick areas for our quickest selling lines in our branches and this remains the case.

“Our Booker colleagues are working tirelessly to do everything they can to support all of the local shops that we supply and appreciate the vital work that community shops are doing during this challenging time.

“The reality is that we have experienced a substantial increase in demand for a number of products, with independent retailers we serve experiencing significant uplifts and subsequently increasing their orders with us. Demand has increased by 300% on some product lines.

“We have had some localised challenges with availability, but we are working to restock our branches as quickly as possible. We are in constant contact with our supply chain, and we have written to our suppliers of our most in-demand categories to again ensure they are aware of the challenge and requesting that they prioritise this stock.

Coronavirus: Booker Retail MD responds to availability criticisms

“We have introduced a range of measures to try and ensure availability for our existing customers. This includes restricting the quantities customers can purchase on some of the most in-demand lines to try to ensure availability for more customers, suspending our delivery service to new customers, and to try and ease the flow, customers who operate a retail or catering business will be the only customer groups that have access to our branches from opening until 11am.

“This is an extraordinary time for our business, but product availability does continue to improve, and we are doing everything possible to continue to supply all of our retailers who are doing an amazing job of serving their communities. We will pick up with the retailers directly to see if there’s anything further we can help with.”

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