One of the UK’s largest own-account operators, Palmer Harvey & McLane, has collapsed into administration and ceased trading with the immediate loss of 2,500 jobs.

The wholesaler has more than 600 vehicles specified on its O-licence, which placed it at 23 in MT’s Own-Account top 50. This was published alongside our latest edition of the MT Top 100.

Customers have included the likes of Coca-Cola Enterprises as well as supermarket group Morrisons.

Matthew Callaghan, joint administrator for the business and PwC partner, said: "The Palmer & Harvey name has been a trusted partner for retailers and suppliers for nearly 100 years. This is a devastating blow for everyone who has been involved in the business.

“The administration team will focus on working with employees, clients and suppliers to facilitate a smooth and effective wind-down or transfer of operations over the next few weeks.”

“The P&H Group has faced a challenging trading environment, and the need for significant restructuring has been recognised for some while. The company has insufficient cash resources to continue to trade beyond the short term and the directors have concluded that there is no longer any reasonable prospect of a sale. Therefore, the directors have had no choice but appoint administrators.”

“The administrators are working closely with employees affected by the closure of the business to ensure they receive the support they need during this difficult time to assist with their claims for redundancy and other compensatory payments.

“Our priority is to ensure that all employees made redundant are assisted in processing their claims with immediate effect. We will be circulating correspondence to all staff as soon as possible which will outline the support available to complete redundancy payment forms,” Callaghan said.

WS Retail, a convenience store operator within the same group, has not been placed into administration and continues to trade.

Palmer & Harvey McLane is described as the UK’s largest delivered wholesaler to the convenience market. It has around 90,000 customers ranging from small local corner stores to the UK’s largest supermarkets.

It operates a delivery network of 14 regional DCs, which supplies up to 12,000 product lines. P&H Direct, also part of the administration, provides product delivery services to independent retailers and food outlets.

The group has been by hit by challenging trading conditions in recent months and efforts to restructure the business have been unsuccessful, according to the administrator. This has resulted in cash flow pressures and it has not been possible to secure additional funding to support the business.

PwC said the firm had around 3,400 employees, and 2,500 at head office and the company’s branch network had been made immediately redundant. The remaining employees will assist the joint administrators in managing the activities of the business to an orderly closure.  Currently 450 employees have been retained within the wholesale business.

With the support of its secured creditors, the business was able to ensure the payment of November payroll, PwC added.

Information for creditors can be found on the government website.

The administrators are continuing to explore options for a sale of P&H Direct Van Sales, P&H Sweetdirect and  P&H Snacksdirect, all subsidiaries of Palmer & Harvey.

It comes after Tesco’s takeover of Booker Group (which with 731 vehicles on its O-licence is at 18 in our Top 50 Own-Account) was given the provisional green light.