Sainsbury's shoppers in the north of England should get their turkeys and tinsel on time after the retailer signed a seasonal distribution deal with Wincanton.

It will use its Middleton site near Manchester to handle Sainsbury's seasonal relief operation, joining the operation at Buntingford, Hertfordshire, which also helped manage Sainsbury's festive offer in the south last year.

Mike Sturt, Sainsbury's logistics director, northern, said: "Wincanton proved to us last year that it was more than capable of delivering a supply chain that is flexible to seasonal demands. By combining our northern and southern seasonal operations, we are able to make greater cost savings across our operations."

The Middleton site has already started supplying Christmas products such as wrapping paper, cards and decorations to more than 250 stores nationwide, and will also supply 700 lines of fast-moving groceries to more than 50 stores in the north of England.

In the final stage of the operation the site will manage and transport chilled products to more than 30 stores in the north.

This Christmas will be challenging for all retailers, as Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday, making it hard to predict demand on the last trading day.