Retailers and wholesalers are divided after Today’s Group managing director Darren Goldney described the £3.7bn Tesco-Booker merger as a “difficult transformation”.

Mr Goldney told RN at the group’s annual trade show in Liverpool any promises made as part of the merger, which was given final approval this month, would take years to come into effect. “You’ve got two massive businesses coming together making promises of increased buying power and improved supply chain.

“Their size means the transition won’t be immediate,” he said. “It will be a difficult transformation which will take years because you’re bringing two diverse cultures together.”

Mr Goldney added retailers and wholesalers can use the gap to consider how they can offer better services and supply chain.

Filshill managing director Simon Hannah agreed with Mr Goldney, and said availability issues as a result of the Co-op, Nisa and Costcutter supply deals shows what can happen when “bigger beasts” come together. 

However, Right Price Trade Wholesale director Piyush Patel argued Tesco and Booker will be prepared. “The deal has been on the cards for more than a year. They’ll have had a lot of things planned out to help them push the merger through immediately.

“Times will be tough because suppliers will put their budget towards the merger and we’ll have less slice of the cake.” 

Mr Goldney added Today’s had conducted a survey asking independent retailers their supply preferences if price and service were the same regardless of the supplier.

More than 73% of those surveyed said they would prefer to purchase from a wider range of independent suppliers rather than a single source.

Paul Cheema, of Nisa Tile Hill Lane in Coventry, added: “Charles Wilson is a smart man and he’ll have already done a lot of work to push the promises through quickly.”