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Shell says it has ’activated a contingency plan’ in the wake of P&H’s collapse

Oil giant Shell has admitted there could be the “possibility of interruption” to the supply of products at its filling stations in the wake of Palmer & Harvey going bust.

Shell said it had “activated a contingency plan” to try to ensure “the best possible business continuity” in the wake of the collapse of Britain’s biggest delivered wholesaler.

“Shell is confident that this will not have a sustained adverse impact on the supply of convenience retail products to its company-owned service stations,” said a Shell spokeswoman.

“While there may be the possibility of interruption to the supply of some products over the next few weeks, Shell has activated a contingency plan to ensure the best possible business continuity.

“Shell’s priority is to maintain a safe and reliable service to its customers and retail partners.”

P&H fell into administration last week, resulting in 2,500 immediate job losses just weeks before Christmas.

Palmer & Harvey supplied more than 90,000 outlets, including forecourts and motorway service companies like Welcome Break and Moto.

In April 2016, P&H signed a new five-year contract worth almost £500m to supply frozen and chilled products to some 450 MRH forecourts.

The UK’s largest independent forecourt operator has had a supply agreement with P&H since 2003.

MRH CEO Karen Dickens was “sorry to hear the news our long-term partner had entered administration” and said her thoughts were with 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,” she added.

“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.”

Morrisons extended its partnership with Rontec for it to operate 50 Morrisons Daily stores at its sites earlier this year.

The c-stores had been supplied by P&H, but neither Morrisons and Rontec would comment on their contingencies.

The demise of the UK’s largest cigarette distributor could also have an adverse effect on some of the country’s motorway services.

P&H vans and lorries have delivered products to Moto’s network for over a decade.

The motorway service group said Blakemore “stepped in last weekend to take over the usual twice-a-week deliveries” to all its retail and forecourt shops.

A Moto spokesman said: “The demise of P&H comes as a sad blow for they have been one of the key logistics suppliers to our network for over 10 years and together we had built a successful working relationship. The news of them being so swiftly put into administration was a surprise. Luckily, this time of year is our quietest so they [retail and forecourt shops] have been largely unaffected by the situation.

“Our sincere thoughts and best wishes are with the P&H workforce, while our gratitude is also due to Blakemore for so promptly and professionally stepping into a difficult situation to enable us to maintain the usual high standards of service and care with which we are synonymous throughout the motorway network.”