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Now past the first anniversary of its acquisition by Co-op, Nisa has announced a reshuffle of management responsibilities.  With Retail Director, Nigel Gray to leave the business, Steve Leach, currently Sales Director, will take an expanded brief covering both sales and retail functions as of 1 July.  This will bring together retailer recruitment, account management and retail operations under a single head.

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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.

60% of private label sales now Co-op brand

Having rolled out 850 Co-op products to the Nisa wholesale offer, these lines now comprise 16% of the total volume of products being purchased by its retailers.  These have especially strengthened the Nisa offer in chilled and fresh categories.  This success of Co-op products means that by the end of April a further 1,000 Co-op lines will now be made available to Nisa-supplied retailers.  In total these 1,850 Co-op brand products accessible through Nisa will then represent some 80% of Co-op's full private label range.   

Co-op brand now contributing to Making a Difference Locally

As Co-op private label is becoming increasingly significant within the Nisa offer, Co-op products have now been incorporated into the established Nisa charity scheme by which private label sales yield a contribution to every store's fund for supporting local causes.  Alongside the contributions accruing from Nisa's own Heritage private label, sales of Co-op branded products now bring a 0.6% donation to Making a Difference Locally, helping boost local community engagement amongst all Nisa-affiliated stores.

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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

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