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Wholesale distributor and Co-op subsidiary, Nisa has expanded its field team of retail development managers by more than 40% since the beginning of 2019, to bring increased support and contact to its independent retail customers across the UK.

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Financial results posted with Companies House show that in the year to 1 April 2018, wholesale distributor, Nisa Retail had sales of £1,457m, an increase of over 16% on 2017.  Able to step into the breach left by the collapse of Palmer & Harvey in November 2017, Nisa benefited especially from gaining a short-term agreement to supply 1,024 Costcutter stores and 172 McColl's outlets.  This boosted overall store recruitment to 1,836 for the year and Nisa ended the year with a 'live' network of 4,225 stores across the UK.

Gains across all product areas

In keeping with the small format of most of the stores coming into supply in the year, tobacco and alcohol were the categories that gained the biggest uplifts, with tobacco in particular getting the greatest cash uplift with an additional £76m of sales gained.  As a result tobacco penetration in the total sales mix rose to 32%.  Growth in fresh and frozen (up 16.6%) especially benefited Nisa private label ranges, with its fresh ranges notably seeing significant outperformance, up 23.1%.

Contract extension with Costcutter underpins continuing growth

While Nisa's supply agreement with McColl's has largely ceased, the roll-out of the Co-op contract to supply the full Costcutter estate for the coming five years is substantially making up for this loss.  Backed with the buying and private label capability of Co-op as its parent, Nisa is now in a position to significantly improve its future offering to its independent retail customer base.  The business is also continuing to invest in format solutions for retailers, enabling them to implement store designs that engage with emerging shopper trends and target opportunities to capture additional footfall.

Commenting on the outlook for the future Robin Brown, Director, said:

'Nisa's new ownership structure, under the Co-op, will strike a balance between offering greater scale and an improved product offering, with the continued flexibility to trade their businesses as they want.  Co-op's market-leading position in the convenience sector and award-winning own brand range will help invigorate the Nisa wholesale proposition for the benefit of partners' businesses.'

Diary date - Co-op Trade Briefing 19 September

Hear from the senior team on Co-op retail and wholesale strategies, click here for more details.

Nisa retailers are now able to place orders for Co-op’s range of own label products. The range will gradually be made available to independent stores over the next few weeks.

Phased roll-out

Co-op will make the own label range available in four phases:

  1. The first 49 products can be ordered from next week
  2. Another 350 from mid-July
  3. A further 350 in September
  4. The final products in November, bringing the total to 800 products

Products in the first phase include those from key snacking and ready meal categories such as Co-op’s own label pizzas, soft drinks, crisps, snacks and biscuits.  Retailers were given details of which products where being made available during each phase at recent Nisa Roadshows and are working with Nisa to plan which products suit their stores.

Co-op moving quickly to develop potential of Nisa takeover

The CMA gave the go-ahead for Co-op's takeover of Nisa in April this year.  In May, on the day the deal was given final legal recognition, Co-op annonced the appointment of former Tesco senior executive Ken Towle  as Chief Executive of the Nisa subsidiary with immediate effect.

At the time of the announcement, Jo Whitfield, Co-op Retail CEO said the partnership between the two companies would allow Nisa retailers to access "award-winning Co-op own brand products...benefitting from competitive prices and promotions".  Just six weeks later, the rollout of the initial batch of Co-op own label products marks the first step in the activation of this plan, demonstrating that Co-op want to move quickly to realise the potential of their move into the convenience wholesale market.

Nisa at IGD Convenience Retailing Summit 2018

As Nisa enters a critical new phase in its evolution, Ken Towle, the new CEO, will share how the relationship with Co-op will bring new standards and best practice disciplines to 3,000 independent stores.


IGD Convenience Retailing Summit 2018


26-27 September, London


Convenience continues to outpace big store formats. This year we have launched a two-day event to help you explore every opportunity, possibility and future trend to boost your business.

Find out more »

The Co-op has announced the appointment of Ken Towle as Chief Executive of its newly acquired Nisa subsidiary.  The former senior Tesco executive has taken up the role with immediate effect, replacing Arnu Misra who stepped in as interim Nisa CEO in late 2017.  The announcement comes on the day that the Co-op's acquisition of the wholesale distributor gained final legal recognition.

Ken Towle offers experience of long Tesco career

Having moved through levels of management both in Tesco stores and head office, Ken Towle also held leading roles in Tesco's international markets, including China, Central Europe, Ireland and Turkey.  On leaving Tesco in 2015, he then spent two years as a senior advisor with The Boston Consulting Group, and was most recently with the international franchise retailer MH Alshaya.

Jo Whitfield, Co-op Retail CEO, commenting on the acquisition of Nisa said:

"This is exciting news.  Co-op and Nisa have all the ingredients for a successful partnership, which will include the offer of award-winning Co-op own brand products.  It will give Nisa partners a wholesale operation of scale, allowing them to trade their businesses in the way they choose, whilst benefiting from competitive prices and promotions on an industry-leading own brand."


IGD Convenience Retailing Summit 2018


26-27 September, London


Convenience continues to outpace big store formats. This year we have launched a two-day event to help you explore every opportunity, possibility and future trend to boost your business.

Find out more »

CMA gives go-ahead for Co-op Nisa deal
The Competition and Markets Authority has cleared the Co-op’s £137.5m takeover of buying group Nisa, saying "the proposed merger does not give rise to competition concerns”.

UK competition regulator launches Co-op/Nisa enquiry
The UK Competition and Markets Authority has now begun its preliminary investigation into the potential effects of the proposed acquisition of wholesaler/distributor Nisa by the Co-operative Group.

Nisa Retail Q4 shows benefit of P&H demise
Wholesale distributor, Nisa Retail, has announced trading figures for Q4 of its 2017/18 year (13 weeks to 1 April), reporting total sales for the period up 26.1% to £377m.


An essential summary of trading priorities, latest developments, and other key commercial insights for Nisa.
A selection of great convenience stores.
Offering an exceptional quality of fit and execution, Raj Bathia's store at Battersea, shows how an independent retailer of vision can deliver an offer to meet the exacting demands of this high-end location.
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This in-depth guide to the United Kingdom explores the key trends in grocery retail and the growth strategies of the leading retailers in the country.

An essential summary of trading priorities, latest developments, and other key commercial insights for Nisa.

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