Nisa-Today's is still in good health despite the collapse of the merger with Costcutter last year and the recent sale of members such as Anglian Convenience Stores and Heald's Supermarkets, the group maintains.
Chief executive officer Neil Turton told Convenience Store that in the 11 months to February 2007, 120 new members with a combined turnover of £147m joined the group - a net gain of more than £77m when taking into account members who have left. In addition, the introduction of the New Era programme has boosted loyalty among existing members.
Turton said: "I haven't changed my mind about the merger - I am still convinced it was a good idea, and that by not pursuing it we have missed an opportunity to go on the acquisition trail.
"But in the absence of the merger, we have to look at alternatives to get growth," he continued. "We have to recruit faster than we lose members, and we have to encourage members to spend more with us. We've achieved it this year, but we know it'll get harder in the future."
The New Era programme, which rewards members for loyalty across a wide spectrum of product categories, delivered more than £2m-worth of member rebates and has driven double-digit growth in ambient lines. It also enabled the group to present a more disciplined face to suppliers.
Turton said the group was still seeking partnerships with other organisations to make full use of capacity at Nisa's new ambient warehouse, while new options to raise money for store acquisitions or investment are being explored.
He said: "We learned from our roadshows that members want the company to expand, but many are nervous about a private equity involvement. So we need to look at different models, including fundraising from existing members through devices such as preference shares."
l Nisa-Today's has confirmed the addition of three extra places on its board following an EGM at its Lincolnshire head offices.
The additional places, which were proposed at last year's AGM, will be filled by Jim Amabile, Peter Sykes and Anujm Khan, who take the number of member places to 15.