Britvic has ended its distribution contract with Eddie Stobart, and Wincanton is understood to be handling movements from 1 April.

The result of the re-tender ends a long-term relationship between Stobart and Britvic: the operator picked up the distribution contract for the soft drink manufacturer in April 2011, breaking Wincanton’s sole service provider status with the company at the time.

A spokesman for Stobart told “We have enjoyed a collaborative relationship with Britvic for the last five years, consistently receiving excellent feedback on our exemplary service, notably for our recent Christmas performance.”

He explained that in 2016 Britvic made what he described as “significant changes to its network” which resulted in the need for Stobart to reposition its commercial offer during a recent tender.

“Despite our extensive understanding of the Britvic network and service requirements, unfortunately through the re-tendering process we have been unsuccessful in re-securing the distribution contract,” he added.

The spokesman said: “The tender has been awarded to another logistics company who currently provide their warehousing solution.”

In 2014 Wincanton won a three year contract extension with Britvic to run its NDC in Lutterworth, Leicestershire.

Wincanton and Britvic have a relationship that goes back 20 years – and it retained the warehousing contract in 2011 despite Stobart being awarded the distribution work.

A spokeswoman for Britvic said that it was company policy not to comment on speculation surrounding commercial contracts.

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The Stobart spokesman said: “Obviously we are disappointed, however we all know that the market is competitive and it is important that we are able to deliver both a service and commercial proposition that works for both parties.

“We still have very positive relationships with Britvic and wish them well with their new provider. We will continue to support with excellent service levels through to our last delivery on 31 March,” he added.

A spokeswoman for Wincanton said: “We can confirm that we are in discussions with a leading FMCG brand to take over their transport operations.

"As consultations are ongoing, we are unable to share any further information at this stage.”