Nisa Today's has been better than a soap opera in recent years with strong characters, unexpected twists and intricate plotlines that run and run.

While the current management team and recently-revamped corporate organisation have helped to keep the group focused on the positives in recent months, its billion pound turnover but mutual ownership structure means it will always be vulnerable to external entrepreneurs with a twinkle in their eye.

My sources assure me that the board was right to reject Bibby's recent takeover bid, and that members are not looking to sell for any price that is likely to be offered in these straightened times.

For what it's worth, I think they are right. But the takeover bid, and the apparently concluded negotiations over the group's new distribution contract, once again draw into focus the inter-connectivity of Nisa, Costcutter and Bibby. At some point in the future, you feel, something has to give, and a big deal will be done.

Let us hope that when that point comes, the people around the table sorting it out remember that the value of these symbol groups, indeed any symbol group, is based on the quality and loyalty of the independent retailers in the membership, and that their interests should be the first thing that should be considered at all times. I remain hopeful that this will be the case.

A sick feeling

Swine flu is becoming this summer's fashion accessory. Have you had it yet? No, but I know someone who has...

It's good to learn that, so far, stores have not been too badly affected by it, and the increased focus on personal hygiene that it is forcing can only be a good thing for an industry making great strides in the areas of fresh and ready to eat food.

One swine flu story caught my eye though. The Times reported that Sainsbury declined to join the national network of pharmacies acting as collection points for antiviral drugs authorised via the government's flu service as it would lead to "increased risk to shoppers and colleagues".

I wonder how many local councils were seduced by promises of full service to communities when granting the retail giant planning permission for in-store pharmacies, and how many independent chemists have been adversely affected or even closed as a result?

I am a firm believer that there should be no rights without responsibilities, and to deny ill people access to pharmacies seems a total denial of those responsibilities. It wouldn't happen at an independent store.