Palmer & Harvey customers have reported an average 6% fall in sales to Retail Express as they struggled to keep shelves full in the immediate aftermath of the wholesaler’s collapse.

The closure of the UK’s largest delivered wholesaler also affected one in three store owners who did not trade with P&H. Store refits were delayed, delivery schedules altered and availability levels reduced as wholesaler resources were pulled away to help struggling former P&H shops.

Meanwhile at a wholesale level, the race was on to gobble up P&H’s business and its 90,000 customers. Booker was first off the mark, securing a deal to supply 1,800 Shell forecourts.

Responding to the deal, a Booker spokesperson said it would “minimise disruption in the supply chain”.

Nisa won a short-term contract to supply ambient lines to McColl’s, with Nisa interim chief executive Arnu Misra promising that Nisa retailers will be unaffected.

This was followed by an announcement from Costcutter Supermarkets Group that it had agreed a five-way tie-up to support retailers.

The company is working with Musgrave, Bestway, Nisa and the Co-op to roll out interim wholesale deliveries to the majority of its stores, while Bestway, Musgrave and Dhamecha are providing additional cash & carry support.

Costcutter CEO Darcy Willson-Rymer said the collapse had been “disruptive”. “Providing an interim supply solution is our priority,” he added.

John Kinney, Today’s Group retail director, added that the company would do all it could to assist stores. “It is not in the interests of Today’s Group or our independent wholesale members for consumers to witness poorly-serviced independent retailers,” he said.

“The knock on effect of such a situation would be that the consumer is pushed to the multiples, which could be damaging to the independent sector.”

We spoke to retailers to see how they're adjusting to the change.