An anonymous retailer has sent me a pop-up that recently appeared on Nisa Retail’s online discussion forum saying that it was being relaunched on 5 April with revised terms & conditions. Essentially, he claimed, Nisa will cut off anybody criticising the Nisa/Co-op set up.

The retailer said: “Total surprise to me and I am sure many others. Did not see any advanced messages this was going to happen. My only surprise is that it has taken Co-op so long to silence the growing anger and frustration I am sure many of us Nisa/Co-op supplied retailers feel of our treatment since the takeover.”

He sent me the ‘attachment 2 paragraph 6’ spelling out what will happen if “any so-called partner breaks the new ORDER. End of free speech for Nisa/Co-op retailers in the UK, a very sad day for us all so-called Nisa/Co-op partners.”

He described the new ousting rule as a ‘three strikes and you’re out’ one.

“Lately a few of the most vocal so-called partners have been venting their frustrations on the forum, and Nisa/Co-op are not happy about it I would say. Price leaflet prices of other suppliers’ goods often up to half Nisa/Co-op have been frequently posted for all to see. There is a lot of anger on the forum at the broken promises of cheaper prices made at pre-sell out meetings. As I have said in previous emails many of our Co-op own brand goods can be purchased cheaper in a local Co-op store than from Nisa and has been a frequent subject on the forum.

“The latest posts have been on a doubling of the extra per delivery fuel charge to almost £10 (extra £7,800 a year to my two stores) when almost all our suppliers are still delivering free. This is on top of the between 0.5% to 5% surcharge already applied to deliveries, which is based on the number of cases per delivery. Hence the new forum rules to try and silence our voices.”

I asked Nisa to comment and got the following reply from a spokesperson: “The intention of the forum was to provide a platform on which partners could share best practice and recommendations with each other in a respectful, virtual environment. By relaunching the forum for its intended purpose, we hope to encourage new users to take part, and by using other more appropriate channels for operational queries, we can better meet the needs of our partners with quick resolution of issues. We trust that the forum going forward will be fit for today’s tolerant approach to business. The rules of forum use are fundamentally the same as they’ve always been.”