Philip Morris-owned e-cig supplier Nicocigs has been forced to apologise to retailers for failing to deliver the free tobacco gantries it had promised.

The Grocer reported last month that Nicocigs was running a promotion in the run-up to the display ban - which kicked in for small stores on Monday - offering retailers a free, fully-compliant gantry in return for an agreement to stock a wide range of its products. It said at the time that the dual-branded Nicolites and Vivid gantries could be provided bespoke to suit any store’s requirements.

However, retailers contacted The Grocer this week expressing their anger as their promised gantry had not been fitted in time - leaving them to come up with a DIY solution at short notice. “I’ve had to go down to the shop this morning and buy a curtain and rail to put up myself,” said one independent, who also said he had been unable to get hold of his Nicocigs representative.

The Birmingham-based company admitted to supply problems, which it said were caused by unexpectedly high demand. “Nicocigs is sorry to confirm that, due to unprecedented demand, some retailers will not receive their permanent gantry solution in time to meet the point of sale display ban implementation date,” said a spokeswoman.

“Retailers are very important to us and we understand that those who we will not reach by 6 April will be bitterly disappointed. We take the issue very seriously and remain fully committed to rectifying this as a matter of urgency.

“We have deployed additional and dedicated resources across the UK to address the shortfall, whilst also providing free temporary solutions to those retailers whose gantries will not be fitted by 6 April. We will supply temporary solutions and continue to regularly update our retailers, keeping them informed on the status of their fittings.”

Nicocigs is one of the UK’s biggest e-cigarette companies. Founded in 2008 it was bought by Philip Morris International last June for an undisclosed sum.

As the deadline to the display ban approached, the ACS said it had received a sharp rise in phone calls to its helpline from concerned retailers.

Over the past month, it has received in excess of 50 calls a day from shop owners enquiring about the ban.

“Most of the calls have been from retailers who are looking for help sourcing a solution, but we have also had a number of calls from retailers looking for reassurance on regulation’s nuances - issues such as the font sizes for price lists and whether their chosen solution will be legal,” said an ACS spokesman.