Tesco has incurred the wrath of suppliers by issuing a fresh round of invoices charging for late or missed deliveries, The Grocer can reveal.

Angry suppliers claimed this week that the debit notices, which in some cases total £1m, had come out of the blue and given them just days to settle the bill.

Under a new system introduced a year ago, Tesco charges £10 per case on late or missed deliveries. One supplier said he was furious because the value of each case he was supplying was far less than that, at around £4.

Another said that service levels had only dropped because of unplanned promotional activity implemented independently by Tesco.

The timing was no coincidence, added another. He pointed out that Tesco’s financial year finishes at the end of the month and suggested it was looking to beef up its balance sheet.

However, a Tesco spokesman defended the charges, which relate to service levels over the last six months. “As a responsible retailer, we have strong and transparent relationships with our suppliers and meet with them regularly to discuss any issues they may have,” he said.

“To ensure we meet the expectations of our customers, we do on occasion invoice some suppliers for late or short delivery of goods. If any of our suppliers wish to query an invoice connected to late deliveries, we would encourage them to contact us at the first opportunity.”

This time last year, a leaked letter to suppliers from a senior Tesco category director claimed late or missed deliveries were costing it £50m in lost sales opportunities as suppliers had failed to deliver 6.2 million cases.