Makro MD Hannes Floto has insisted that the cash & carry chain has the full support of its German parent company Metro Group.

The claim came as key figures in the wholesale sector warned that Metro would pull out of the UK completely if its latest rescue plan for Makro failed.

Makro Cash & Carry, which has 33 depots in the UK, revealed earlier this month that it planned to close three depots - in Coventry, Wolverhampton and Swansea - with a loss of 378 jobs. It is the third attempt to restructure the business since 2004.

Speaking exclusively to The Grocer, Floto said the proposed depot closures were not part of Metro Group's restructuring programme, Shape 2012, which it launched last month. "We have Metro's compete support," he said. "We have made this very clear to our customers and suppliers."

He added that he did not expect any further depots to be closed.

Despite Floto's assurances, wholesalers believe Metro could be losing patience with the UK business. "Metro has made it clear on a few occasions that the UK is a problem for it, so there is a distinct possibility it could pull out of the UK completely," said one leading wholesaler. "There have been rumours about a possible exit for some time, but I'm not sure they'd spend so much money closing parts of the business if they weren't going to carry on."

Another wholesaler added that Makro's decision to close its Wolverhampton depot was a bad sign. "I understand that was Makro's newest branch and wasn't doing too badly," he said. "If they're closing Wolverhampton, there will be a lot of other depots that would be borderline."

Speaking this week at The Grocer's annual lunch for the Big 30 wholesalers and Top 50 retailers, Deutsche Bank analyst James Collins said Makro was unlikely to remain in its current form. "There will be a change because the UK has been a real problem for Metro," he said. "It's a problem Metro has tolerated for too long and there are signs it won't let it continue."