Booker has been forced to defend itself against accusations it is "extracting money from suppliers to pay for its new website".

The criticism was sparked this week after Booker sent a letter to suppliers asking for £250 per SKU to help it improve the way products are displayed.

This was on top of a £35 (own-label) or £75 (branded) charge for the services of Brandbank, the company that manages product images for the site.

One supplier, who said he already paid Brandbank an annual fee for images as the company was also used by Tesco for its website, said: "We certainly won't be paying the £250 per SKU." Booker claimed that on the whole suppliers had responded well. "Suppliers are as excited about [online] growth as we are," said group commercial director Bryan Drew.

"The site is a great way for suppliers to grow distribution of their products and drive through successful retailer and consumer promotions."