Wyke Farms md Richard Clothier has written to Morrisons to complain about “the lack of sensitivity” in how the delisting was conducted. “Communication has been poor and promises to communicate broken and delayed all along the way,” he wrote.
Clothier told the retailer: “Wyke has been a good honest supplier to your business. Our sales have been strong and our support among your many shoppers must now be unquestioned.”
He also noted reports that the Wyke brand had been replaced by another product, which he claimed was removed in April due to poor sales.
Wyke Farms launched a high-profile campaign on Facebook earlier this month after Morrisons told the firm it would no longer stock its cheeses from mid-September. The campaign invites supporters to ask Morrisons’ staff in local stores to retain Wyke Farm products.
Since launching the campaign, Wyke Farms has added more than 7,200 ‘likes’ to its site – taking the total to nearly 12,500.
Morrisons blamed today’s cancelled meeting on the fact that the buyer who used to deal with Wyke had recently left the business. It promised to inform Clothier when a new buyer had been recruited.
The retailer also noted the response to Wyke’s Facebook campaign but said it stood by its decision to delist the firm. However, it raised the possibility of a relisting next year.
Before the meeting was cancelled, Clothier told FoodManufacture.co.uk he had planned to tell the supermarket about the support his firm had attracted on Facebook and Twitter.
“I hope to highlight the dangers in ignoring your customers as social media is increasinglygiving them a powerful collective voice,” he said.
‘Not a personal attack’
“This is not a personal attack on Morrisons. It’s about a small business from Somerset standing up and saying that we may not have the biggest financial resources. But we are relevant and wanted by the shoppers – the Morrisons business was built on the ethos that the shoppers/customers are king.”
Clothier said he and his family had been moved by support for his Facebook campaign. “It’s very emotional for us to see all these people who care for our brand and cheeses as much as we do.”
He added: “We have a responsibility to make sure our quality is absolutely paramount and our brand is affordable to them. Many are struggling financially in this recession.”
Clothier concluded: “It’s very unlikely we will be successful but our voice has been heard.”
In mid-June – as part of its supplier review revealed exclusively by FoodManufacture.co.uk – Morrisons told Wyke Farms it wanted to work with fewer brands. The supermarket invited Wyke Farms and other suppliers to take part in a branded tender.
The cheesemaker was then told Morrisons would delist Wyke Farms and discontinue the 40,000 units a week sold from its stores.
To read how Wyke Farm’s Facebook campaign gathered pace, click here.