Forecourt retailers have expressed sadness – but not surprise – at the fate of wholesaler Palmer and Harvey, which collapsed earlier this week.

Many have had contingency plans in place, with other suppliers stepping in to meet the shortfalls.

MRH, the UK’s biggest independent forecourt operation with more than 450 sites - which agreed a new £90m, five-year supply deal with P&H in 2016 - is focused on maintaining stock on all sites affected.

MRH chief executive Karen Dickens said: “We are sorry to hear the news that our long-term partner Palmer & Harvey has entered administration and our thoughts go out to the hard-working employees affected. MRH has worked closely with P&H over the years and the service provided by their team has always been very good. We have had contingency plans in place for some time and these have been activated to ensure continuity of supply to our P&H-supplied sites. We are confident that all these sites will continue to be well stocked and there should be no disruption for our customers.”

Sarah Nicholson at Stalham Engineering in Stalham, Norfolk has a Mace shop. She’s had no deliveries this week and has managed by going to a cash and carry operation, 20 miles away in Norwich.

“The collapse of P&H wasn’t entirely a shock as their service had not been great for a while. We’re carrying on as usual at the moment - customers wouldn’t notice any changes. We’re just waiting for Costcutter to come back to us with an alternative supply deal.”

Jonathan Gates, Gates of Brockenhurst, said the collapse of P&H was not entirely a surprise as he’d heard all the rumours in the trade.

"I understand Costcutter is still working on a supply deal but we’re a one-off site so in the mean time we can cope. It means extra hassle and extra time but it’s more of an inconvenience than a disaster."

Majid and Sons has 10 forecourts, one of which – Brookside Service Station in Berkshire – is Mace branded. A member of staff at the site said he didn’t think there would be any problems with supplies as they would just use their other stores’ suppliers.

Meanwhile, in an exclusive interview with The Grocer, P&H CEO Tony Reed has issued an emotional apology to all the stakeholders in the business, saying he was sorry that he’d been unable to save the operation, despite working ‘24/7 since he joined in October 2017.

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