NMA claims that Nisa-Today's has colluded with Costcutter to deny entry into Nisa to Costcutter members who request to join the mutual. Nisa-Today's non-executive director Henry Emerson has resigned in protest at a perceived lack of proper investigation by Nisa-Today's into the allegations, while fellow non-executive director Leo Gillen, managing director of Gillen's Supermarkets in Hartlepool, is believed to have written to the OFT through his lawyers seeking the immunity. In return, he has agreed to provide a statement detailing his knowledge of the alleged cartel activity.
Ian Hunt, managing director of Filco Supermarkets and committee member of the NMA, said that the evidence gathered "painted a pretty convincing picture of the companies having acted like a cartel".
The group is thought to have provided evidence from past and present employees of both companies, current Costcutter members who wish to join Nisa, and Nisa members who have broken away from Costcutter.
The OFT has 28 days to decide whether to take the case any further. A Nisa-Today's spokeswoman said: "We strongly deny taking part in any cartel activity. We take these allegations very seriously and have conducted a thorough internal investigation."
Meanwhile, Nisa-supplied chain Select & Save has entered the fray with an offer of up to £50,000 for current Costcutter retailers who wish to join.
In a letter to Costcutter retailers, Select & Save calls itself 'the real cost cutters' and offers them the chance to receive the money.
Joint managing director Steve Jones said that there was nothing to stop Costcutter retailers making the switch.