Nisa-Today's chief operating officer Neil Turton has said that the proposed merger with Nisa is unequivocally "in the group's best interests".
In an exclusive interview with Convenience Store ahead of the group's retail conference, he said: "Can we survive as a mutual in the future? Probably not. We are facing a situation where members are selling up and we have immense capacity in the supply chain. By combining with Costcutter and Kaupthing, we have the chance to operate at lower cost by reducing duplication and have the backing of an investor so we can grow our volumes organically and by acquisition if necessary. If a member wishes to sell up, at the moment we get sand kicked in our face by the multiples. With an investor behind us we can prevent good sites and volumes from exiting the sector."
The Nisa board is working towards a date of November 28 for the EGM when the historic merger will be voted on, depending on print schedules for the merger document and the required 21 days' minimum notice for members.
Turton said the 100-page document would reflect "highest levels of governance, equivalent to plc standards".
He continued: "I am looking forward to getting the proposals out so we can have a debate. The board feels very strongly that members should decide the matter. Whichever way it goes, we'll be able to decide it democratically and move on."
The sale and leaseback of the Nisa warehouse at Scunthorpe will be an integral part of the proposed merger, and will not go ahead should members vote against the plan, said Turton.
"The covenant of the company is stronger with Nisa and Costcutter merged, so if the vote is no, the value of the warehouse would collapse and we wouldn't get a good price.
"Historically, we've never owned assets at Nisa. Our funds have always been for member benefit, not tied up in supply chain assets. All the extra value we capture as a result of the sale will be returned to Nisa members - Kaupthing and Costcutter won't get a share in it."
Turton also defended directors' share options. "Kaupthing requires certain executives to commit to the future by purchasing shares," he said. "Yes, the shares will be at a discount, but we'll have to buy them with our own money. We will be locked in for at least four years. It's a serious commitment - my house is on the line."