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At its annual Stoneleigh trade show Nisa has reported that, since its acquisition by Co-op in May 2018, recruitment of new stores to its wholesale distribution network has increased by 25%.  Boosted by access to the improved ranges Co-op brings, Nisa has successfully recruited 1,006 stores, compared with around 800 in the previous financial year.

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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.

RDM team expanded by eight to 28

Retail development managers act as a key interface between Nisa head office and Nisa retailers, liaising with central functions, such as IT and logistics, to ensure Nisa service is efficient and effective.  Through regular scheduled visits RDMs work to retain retailers and drive loyalty by advising them on how to optimise opportunities for increased sales and profitability and how to develop their businesses further.

More RDMs = more contact between retailers and centre = better discipline

The additional RDM resource now means retailers will get more guranteed personal contact with Nisa, helping them to evolve, grow and innovate in their stores.  Moreover, the improved contact will help to educate retailers on and embed the key commercial priorities that the Nisa Co-op relationship is now developing.

Nigel Gray, Nisa Retail Director commented:

'Since Nisa was acquired by Co-op in May last year, it has focused on combining the best of both organisations to offer something new and exciting to independent retailers and commercial wholesalers across the UK - stability, the benefits of scale and a market-leading own brand and fresh offer -  all of which gives Nisa retailers a real competitive advantage.'

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 »


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