Independent retailers have criticised Costcutter after it pushed back the start of its exclusive supply deal with Co-op until the end of May.

The wholesale agreement announced in November will see Costcutter’s Independent range replaced by Co-op’s Own Label selection. It was initially set to start this month.

A Costcutter retailer, who asked not to be named, told RN the lack of communication around the changes has been disappointing. 

“Communication has been bad and we didn’t receive much notice. We had problems with Palmer & Harvey and, following Kerryfresh and Conviviality’s collapse, further uncertainty about the supply chain is the last thing we want.”

David Wyatt, of Costcutter in Crawley, added: “It’s unfortunate, but the market has been traumatic over the past few months. It is what it is and you have to be patient.”

Another Costcutter retailer, who also asked not to be named, added: “I’ve been looking forward to Co-op’s range because customers know it well and there’s a lot of quality behind it.  

“It is frustrating, but we just have to wait now. I’ve heard of many Costcutter retailers joining rival symbol groups because they don’t want to compete with nearby Co-ops selling the same products.”

Meanwhile, a senior industry source confirmed to RN he has received requests from Costcutter retailers enquiring about a change of symbol groups.

A Costcutter spokeswoman said the delay was due to upcoming promotional activity. “The new Costcutter Supermarkets Group commercial terms for our retailers will go live on 28 May, which is timed to coincide with the start of a promotional period.”

It comes as Co-op announced a £72m profit for the year ending 6 January. A statement in the results said the supply deal with Costcutter stores and takeover of Nisa would help increase its buying power.