Malcolm’s Stores director Paul Cheema has spoken publicly for the first time about the reasons for leaving Costcutter and joining Nisa at the end of last year.

The high profile and multi award-winning family were one of Costcutter’s key independent members, and Paul chaired the group’s retailer council for two years. He blames poor range decisions, lack of quality checks and broken promises from senior management for the family’s switch to Nisa.

Speaking exclusively to C-Store, Paul said that it was not the delivery service from P&H that was to blame, but the range and availability of product throughout the system.

“I believe the range was rushed in, and based on the Ebor estate (Costcutter company-owned stores). The buyers didn’t seem to understand the importance of pricemarked packs, and smaller packs,” he said.

“We had many meetings with P&H and Costcutter about range – it was alarming the number of products that weren’t listed, yet there seemed to be an abundance of products that we didn’t want. What was promised was not delivered, and what was agreed was not actioned. There was no transparency, and nothing documented. We also didn’t appreciate the importance of (Nisa own-brand) Heritage to our business. When we brought in the Independent instead, customers didn’t understand why.

“We ended up with the wrong range. We didn’t have the correct protein - we had no mince, no chicken. And if you don’t have those then you don’t sell pasta, vegetables or wine either. We were getting mince delivered that was either out of date or had only one days date on it. And it was brown when it arrived – we couldn’t sell it. And our customers were too embarrassed to tell us, they just walked out and went somewhere else. And when the consumer loses confidence in you, you’ve only got a couple of opportunities to get it right. It’s three strikes and you’re out.”

Paul revealed that the Malcolm’s business had achieved growth of 4-5% every year for the past five years, but sales since migration to the new buy and supply system were down 9%.

“Our business has been built by my parents over the past 31 years and it was under threat. It gave us sleepless nights, and affected us all emotionally, the family, the store team, the community as a whole. We believe the Costcutter brand has been damaged. In the end we didn’t leave, we were forced out: we had no choice,” he added.

“It hurts us to leave Costcutter after all these years, but it is no longer the right model for our business. Heritage is back, and better, and we are confident we can achieve a successful future with Nisa.”