Londis retailers have reacted angrily to a Costcutter letter offering them up to £30,000 to transfer to the symbol group.
The letter was sent to the 1,200 largest Londis members and offered them £30,000 in three instalments for signing a four-year deal.
A number of offers to buy Londis have been received since Musgrave launched a takeover bid in December.
But Costcutter’s offer is the first overt attempt to lure members away from the group.
The two protest groups set up by retailers following the Musgrave bid rejected the offer.
Shamus Lehal, chairman of PALS (Preferred Alliance of Londis Retailers), said he thought he had hit the jackpot when he opened the letter, but when he investigated the details it was less attractive.
He said most of the first £10,000 payment would be absorbed by the costs of joining. Subsequent payments would depend on volume of orders, deliveries would be less frequent and more expensive and retailers were tied to Costcutter for four years.
He was also unhappy about the two-week limit for accepting the offer, and said retailers should wait for a report from KPMG, due shortly, which is assessing offers for the group.
Adrian Costain of Londis Shareholders Action Group said the offer was divisive.
Costcutter faced a further setback when Nisa-Today’s, which handles its distribution, said until new facilities came on stream next year, it could only accept a 5% increase in volume.
Group MD John Schofield said Costcutter would have to decide whether the 5% extra capacity was made available to existing retailers or incoming Londis members.